Another year at the Consumer Electronics Show and more records fell. Attendance topped 173,000 — including 50,000 from outside the U.S. — with 3,800 exhibitors covering 2.5 million square feet.But this year did not have any truly impressive, jaw-dropping product-tech debuts and felt very much like the last two to three years. The really cool topic remains the advent of the Internet of Things, or IoT, where the Web will move past logging onto a “www” URL to access content and instead free-flow in real-time, seamlessly throughout one’s typical day of interactions at home (web-connected shower, water heater, self-watering flower pots), on the road (connected car, exit signs), at work (thermostats, light bulbs), during lunch (bistro table, interactive menu), shopping (product displays, fitting rooms), dropping the kids at soccer (connected ball, goal-net, shin guards), and picking up some groceries (shopping cart interacts with your fridge’s inventory).
Not every home-automation device, sexed up, looks as desirable as a smart thermostat. A Wi-Fi-connected water sensor, however it’s dressed, is still a lowly water sensor serving daily sentry over a washing machine, water heater or flood-prone basement.It’s not glamorous work, but an efficient water sensor can save thousands in potential damages. D-Link’s Wi-Fi Water Sensor (Model DCH-S160, $59.99), a new addition to the mydlink smart-home lineup, is a basic monitor that, connected to a home network, sends a smartphone alert when it detects water.
Mark DeNyse can work a thermostat as well as the next guy, and he’s perfectly capable of watering his own lawn. But he’d rather let the house take care of such things.
So the 50-year-old Internet developer has given his Hingham home a brain transplant. DeNyse has plugged in a Nest Learning Thermostat that knows when his family is at home and delivers hot or cold air only when it’s needed. He’s hooked up a RainMachine, a device that knows not to turn on the sprinklers in January or the day after a thunderstorm. He’s even placed sensors under the dishwasher, laundry machine, and water heater that’ll ping his smartphone if they spring a leak.
It seems like everyone wants to control your house.
Well, they want to help you control your house using their home automation ecosystem.
What do I mean by home automation?
Tasks like controlling lights remotely, controlling your thermostat and deadbolts remotely, setting appliances to turn on to cook dinner or make coffee automatically or even monitoring your home security or alerting you if your water heater starts leaking.
All those tasks can be done now with home automation hardware from all kinds of manufacturers.
Three years ago most people barely even thought about their air conditioning, until it didn’t work. Then along came NEST, the smart thermostat that opened up a whole new world of home control, and most importantly, money savings. Suddenly, the state of your indoor climate was dinner-table conversation. Get ready to start talking about your water heater.
The household electric water heater, long a quiet partner in utility demand response programs, is going through a series of makeovers that just might turn it into tool that can match the challenges happening at the edge of the grid.
Some of this work involves cutting-edge pilot projects, seeking to create virtual batteries from thousands of water heaters tied together in fast-reacting, grid-responsive control systems. Canada’s PowerShift Atlantic project, or the U.S. Department of Energy-backed Pacific Northwest Demonstration Project, are good examples of this approach.
I’m not sure if anyone out there has given much thought to shopping for big ticket holiday gift items such as home appliances quite yet given that it’s still October. However, if you have given it some thought and a, ummm, super-efficient 50-gallon water heater is on your holiday shopping list, you should probably get thee to a Sears store near you.
Energy minister John Hayes gets on the internet, clicks a mouse and instantly turns off the electricity being used to charge up an electric car 15 miles away. At the same time, he can shut down a fridge and a water heater in a house three miles away. History may record his activation this week of a rudimentary smart grid of two buildings on the Isle of Wight as the start of a power revolution which its advocates hope will spread across Britain and vastly reduce greenhouse gas emissions and electricity consumption.
A couple of decades ago, as part of a team at Pacific Gas and Electric Company, I was busy studying the feasibility of passive solar hot water heating. Most of the systems that we monitored consisted of big black plastic bag-like containers that sat on the roof. There was a system of pipes that either led to a separate storage tank, or circulated water through the existing hot water heater. There was usually a pump of some sort. Anyway you looked at it, the system was ugly. But, most importantly, it worked!
GE Appliances & Lighting is bringing the heat and the cool to the Kitchen & Bath Industry Show, April 14 through April 18 in Chicago. The heat? That would be GE Appliances’ innovative new GeoSpring(TM) Hybrid Water Heater, a ground-breaking home appliance that can help homeowners reduce energy costs by approximately $320 per year.* And the cool? That would be GE Lighting’s new GE Energy Smart(R) LED bulb, the most innovative thing to happen to the light bulb since Edison.