Discover has an article on a new smart technology being employed in prototype household appliances like fridges and tumble dryers. The project, GridWise, put small chips into the appliances of 200 homes. The chips read the levels of electricity usage from the grid – when the grid is heavily in use, they turn off, saving their high energy use for when larger amounts of energy is being wasted unused across the country.
As well as helping providing blackouts, widescale adoption of such technology could enable consumers to maximise the efficiency of alternative energy sources such as wind and solar, which are not consistent in their output. The chips can also be hooked up to realtime energy prices, only turning on your thermostats and washing machines when the price is low.