Washing machines you can control with your phone? Refrigerators that remind you when you're low on milk? Thermostats that monitor energy prices in real time? Grid-aware appliances can do all of these things and more. While certain features may seem gimmicky (not everyone will want their oven chatting up their fridge and suggesting dinner options), the real benefit of these machines is that they decrease peak stress on the power grid while also saving homeowners an average of 15 percent on energy costs [source: Morgan].
Appliance manufacturers are currently bringing grid-smart washer/dryers, refrigerators, televisions, thermostats, hot water heaters and other appliances to market in both Europe and the United States. The ability of these machines to measure and monitor their own use is at the heart of zero-carbon and zero net-energy home building practices.
If you're going to invest in a grid-aware refrigerator, you may as well look into one that uses natural refrigerants rather than the more common, and more environmentally damaging, HFCs. We talk about hydrocarbon refrigerants for home appliances next.