Energy companies are hoping to cut costs and conserve electricity by training customers to trim power use during peak hours, reports the MIT Technology Review. By viewing small monitors in homes, customers can see when demand is highest and turn off energy-hogging air conditioners, dishwashers and space heaters. Generating so-called “negawatts” can even create excess megawatts that can be sold.
Companies like Manhattan’s ConsumerPowerline are testing air-freshener sized gadgets that receive demand info via satellite. During peak hours, the devices glow red, alerting customers to heavy demand. Similar devices are being used in California, mostly in commercial settings, but engineers say home-based units will become common as energy demands increase.