Ford Motor Company is launching the "MyEnergi Lifestyle" collaboration to show how a typical American family can significantly reduce electricity bills and their carbon footprint by integrating electric vehicles (EV), smart appliances and solar energy.
Georgia Institute of Technology computer models show that homeowners can achieve a 60% reduction in energy costs and a 55% reduction in carbon emissions by using this approach.
Comprised of leaders in the home appliance, renewable energy and power management industries, including Eaton (EV charger), SunPower (solar), Whirlpool (smart refrigerator), Infineon (energy sensors) and Nest Labs (smart thermostat), they will demonstrate how combining renewable energy generation with "time-flexible" loads optimizes energy consumption in both vehicles and home appliances.
"More than ever, cars are sharing the same energy source as the home," says Mike Tinskey, global director of Vehicle Electrification and Infrastructure for Ford. "The time is right for the home appliance and transportation sectors to converge if we are going to tackle a myriad of sustainability challenges in a rapidly changing world."
If every US homeowner managed electricity use this way, the power saved would be the equivalent of removing all the homes in California, Texas and New York off the grid.
Some of the energy is saved by simply replacing energy hog appliances with efficient models, but much more is saved by controlling when devices draw energy from the grid.
Accessed via the cloud, homeowners can take advantage of varying utility prices so their EVs are charged and appliances, such as dishwashers and icemakers, kick in when demand (and prices) are low.
Ford already offers a software application that lets owners of its C-MAX Energi, Fusion Energi and Focus Electric vehicles schedule charging cycles when local utility rates are lowest – often overnight or in the early morning.
Essentially, the technology being developed by MyEnergi Lifestyle extends that management capability across the entire household. The approach is utility-agnostic, because Ford has built its own database of utility rates.
Drivers just need to enable a single setting in an app and then plug their cars in without worrying about what time the rates change in their area. The network monitors utility rate schedules and automatically transmits a signal to the vehicle through embedded cellular connectivity to start charging at the lowest cost.
The alliance builds on Ford's partnership with SunPower, which offers customers a solar-powered EV charging station for less than $10,000.
Many companies building out EV charging infrastructure are combining utility prices with charging time, including ECOtality and ChargePoint (formerly Coulomb Technologies), and BMW and Chevy are working on ways to link their EVs to home energy management systems.
But Ford has been particularly aggressive in developing mobile applications and other "intelligent vehicle" features that make this possible.
The technology being touted by MyEnergi partners is due to be commercially available by early in 2014.