The need to conserve energy and help protect the environment continues to grow. Combine that with tight household budgets, and GE’s new in-home, multi-function energy information panel that gives consumers insight and control to help them manage energy usage and understand costs makes more sense than ever. The sleek, touch-screen panel wirelessly connects to a household’s smart meter, appliances and thermostats, via ZigBee(R) or Wi-Fi(R), to gather information, manage usage and deliver the real-time knowledge that empowers smarter energy choices.

The panels are the result of a development effort between GE and OpenPeak Inc., a communications technology developer. The device looks like a tabletop picture frame and can be placed virtually anywhere within a home. The panels are available to consumers through their utilities today. Functionality is dependent on the utility’s selection of applications.

With information from GE smart meters combined with dynamic pricing programs from utilities, the panel tells consumers the best times to perform high-energy-consumption tasks, such as drying clothes, running pool pumps and washing dishes. The panels even will be able to be programmed to control smart appliances, thermostats and heating and cooling devices—reacting to pricing and demand changes instantly. Over time, the device will act as an energy consultant, trending data and making recommendations to better manage energy use. 
"Information is power. Give consumers more information about their energy usage and they’ll find ways to make better decisions,” said Bob Gilligan, vice president—transmission and distribution for GE Energy. “As part of our smart grid suite of offerings, the panels will empower consumers to better manage their energy usage based on real-time information. The panels will connect consumers with the knowledge they need to be better energy stewards and take charge of their energy use and carbon footprint.”

In addition to energy management, GE’s smart panels also will connect with Internet news, sports, music, weather services, social networks like facebook(R) and instant messaging. This multi-functionality helps make the panels a focal point for household information.