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Smart appliances
24 March 2010

I'm a fridge and I'm pretty cool. In fact I'm nearly due to switch off. Uh oh - the grid's getting a bit low. But I know I can afford to switch off a few seconds early to help out

Joe Short

That was Joe Short of Dynamic Demand explaining how an 'intelligent fridge' thinks.

Smart fridges and clever immersion heaters? How's that going to nurture renewable energy and reduce CO2 emissions? We visited Joe to find out.

The balancing act

Joe Short
Joe Short backs the Big Ask

The entire UK electricity supply system is linked together in the 'National Grid'. Your wall socket connects you to this.

The Grid has to match demand with supply and keep things humming at a steady level.


Demand is not 100% predictable so we need 'just in case' supply to guarantee the lights stay on. But this safety net produces CO2 even though it's just a backup.

Put simply, a dynamic demand appliance contains a widget that safely and invisibly adjusts demand. By smoothing out demand it reduces the need for back-up generation - so less wastage.

So we'll cut carbon dioxide emissions?

Yes. Current estimates say this might save over half a million tonnes of carbon dioxide a year. But it's exciting for a bigger reason too...

It helps renewables - but how?

We've got the potential to have a vast input from wind, tidal and all the rest.

Joe Short

Some people say that because the wind doesn't blow all the time we can't use it - that's simply not true.

In fact by levelling out energy demand, dynamic demand will allow the uptake of greater amounts of stop-start renewable energy - such as wind and solar.

Will it cost me more?

No - it could cost you a bit less. But you might not even know you've bought a smart appliance - it won't look different. Most appliances could be smart eventually.

So when can I buy my smart fridge?

Dynamic demand appliances are currently being field tested. There's a clause in the Climate Change and Sustainable Energy Bill promoting the technology.

So, the government and the other parties support it. The manufacturers are happy. In theory the earliest possible date would be 2009.

This is a really easy technology to implement - it could be done just like that.

Joe Short

Smart appliances

© Flat33 / Friends of the Earth

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