Okay, I’m looking at Ford’s new energy-saving partnership with Whirlpool. Let me see if I’ve got this straight. If I connect my car to my refrigerator, I can save up to 60 percent on my household energy bill. Have I got that right?
Hmmm, not exactly, but that’s not as far off as you might think.
In fact, according to a new Ford-led collaboration called MyEnergi Lifestyle®, there are substantial opportunities to reduce energy consumption and carbon emissions by taking a big picture perspective of your household energy use that carefully manages not only what you use, but when you use it.
The whole concept, which some are calling a domestic micro-grid, is a partnership between Ford, Eaton, Whirlpool and Sunpower. It is being unveiled this week at the 2013 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas.
The whole thing revolves around a computer model developed at Georgia Tech that is apparently extremely clever at squeezing energy savings out of electrical devices, providing they are willing, and able, to cooperate.
It starts by deferring electrical consumption till off-peak hours. Things like making ice cubes, drying clothes, heating up water, and of course charging up your electric car and other devices can usually wait until nighttime when electric rates and, as it turns out, carbon emissions are lower. Yes, during the off peak hours, the renewable portion of the power generation mix tends to be higher which means shifting loads till then will reduce CO2 emissions.
Ford cars can now do this automatically with value charging technology which won last year’s Innovation Design and Engineering Award at CES. Value charging uses a proprietary online database of utility rate schedules which automatically charges the car at the most economical time.
Of course, adding on-site solar generation and super-efficient appliances to the mix improves the overall performance, which is why Sunpower, Eaton and Whirlpool are included in the partnership. Other companies involved are Infineon and Nest.
According to the Georgia Tech model, if all the homes in America were on this system, the 60 percent potential cost savings (or 55 percent carbon savings) would be equivalent to removing 32 million homes, the equivalent of NY, California and Texas, from the grid. This is equivalent to an annual CO2 reduction of 9,000 kg (almost ten tons) per home.
It’s all about the synergy, being able to transfer the cheaper and cleaner nighttime electrons from the storage provided by the car’s batteries during the day, supplemented by the solar panels when the sun is shining.
It’s not clear from the information provided, how much of these savings come from what. But if deferring the electric loads from daytime to nighttime really makes such a big difference, then I’m wondering why we don’t just run everything we can on batteries and then charge all the batteries up at night.
RP Siegel, PE, is an inventor, consultant and author. He co-wrote the eco-thriller Vapor Trails, the first in a series covering the human side of various sustainability issues including energy, food, and water in an exciting and entertaining format. Now available on Kindle.
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