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An Electric Connection: Homes Helping the Grid

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The control system effectively transforms existing home heating and cooling units and hot water heaters into smart appliances whose electricity use can be managed in ways that help the grid coordinate supply and demand.

Credit: Stephanie King/Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

Researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) and the University of Oklahoma have invented technology that could reduce strain on the national power grid by controlling residential appliances more efficiently.

PNNL's Michael Brambley said the project sought an affordable, easy-to-install system that residents control, and which households are incentivized to adopt through "a more favorable electricity rate."

The researchers designed the system with smart technology firms pecobee and Shifted Energy, to transform electric resistance furnaces, electric resistance water heaters, heat pumps, and air conditioners into smart appliances that are connected to the grid and managed on demand.

Brambley explained that the retrofitable system "is designed for the millions of homes that could benefit from this method but don't prefer or can't afford to buy smart appliances."

From Pacific Northwest National Laboratory
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