Getting Smart: Page 4 of 4


Inside this Article

Smart Meter
The smart meter is a key component of a smart grid, bridging the utility network to household circuits.
LS Research’s RateSaver Monitor
LS Research’s RateSaver monitor displays energy use and related data in an easy-to-read, in-house display.
Aztech Associates’ In-Home Display
Aztech Associates’ In-Home Display shows real-time power and hourly, daily, and monthly energy usage.
Energate’s Radio-Controlled Thermostat
Energate’s radio-controlled thermostat syncs to the smart meter, providing utilities with the option for remote load-control management, such as changing temperature settings or even idling the heating or air conditioning system for a short period of time to help avoid brownouts.
Smart Meter
LS Research’s RateSaver Monitor
Aztech Associates’ In-Home Display
Energate’s Radio-Controlled Thermostat

Load: Electric Tank-Style Water Heater

Smart Solution: Radio-Controlled High-Power Control Box

Another home and business load that can be made “smart” is the electric tank-style water heater. This load can be turned off and then back on—without the customer even being aware—with a radio-controlled high-power control box, such as the Converge Digital Control Unit. Like the RCT, this interface device receives wireless signals via the smart meter, which then signals the utility. Other possible loads to be controlled include dishwashers, clothes washers, clothes dryers, and swimming-pool pumps.

All of this new technology adds up to energy conservation and cost savings for power customers. In 2007, the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Pacific Northwest National Laboratory launched a year-long energy-use study of 112 households. They found that advanced technologies enable consumers to be active participants in improving power grid efficiency and reliability, while saving money in the process. On average, consumers who participated in the project saved approximately 10% on their electricity bills.

“As demand for electricity continues to grow, smart grid technologies such as those demonstrated in the Olympic Peninsula [NW Washington state] area will play an important role in ensuring a continued delivery of safe and reliable power to all Americans,” says Kevin Kolevar, DOE Assistant Secretary for Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability. “The department remains committed to working with industry to research, develop, and deploy cutting-edge technologies to power our electric grid and help maintain robust economic growth.”

Now, that’s truly smart.


Mark Hazen is an electronics engineer and the author of several electronics textbooks, plus a book about renewable energy. Mark created in 2007 to help others convert petroleum-based vehicles to electricity.

Smart Metering Devices:

Aztech Associates Inc. • • In-home display

Energate • • Radio-controlled thermostat

GE Energy • • Smart meters

Google • • PowerMeter

HomePlug Alliance •

LS Research • • RateSaver monitor

Additional Resources:

National Energy Technology Lab, U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) •

Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA) of 2007 •

Emergency Economic Stabilization Act (EESA) of 2008 •

“National Energy Technology Laboratory, A Systems View of the Modern Grid—Improved Interfaces and Decision Support,” Appendix B5 •

“National Energy Technology Laboratory, A Systems View of the Modern Grid—Advanced Components,” Appendix B3 •

Olympic Peninsula Project •

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