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CES: GE readies energy display for 'home of the future'

General Electric's digital energy display shows off a multi-product system for managing home energy, generate electricity at home, and manage electric-vehicle charging.

LAS VEGAS--For General Electric, the energy business is going digital.

The company's booth at the Consumer Electronics Show showcases different home energy products, nearly all of which are connected on a home information network and the Internet.

Using home automation to better manage energy, security, and improve entertainment is a theme here at CES where companies from different areas are touting connected devices beyond just PCs and even TVs.

GE is showing off its smart appliances which use Zigbee to communicate with a smart meter and Nucleus, a phone charger-size gadget which acts as a networking hub for connected devices.

Nucleus will be available in the third quarter this year but only through utilities doing smart-grid programs.

GE is also readying an energy display, first shown here at CES, which is a small screen to show consumers how much energy they are using and give them notifications.

For example, if a utility has time-of-use pricing, the display could show a consumer that it's a critical peak time and higher prices are in effect. A person could then adjust the thermostat or schedule a power-hungry load, such as a dishwasher, for another time.

GE already has more expensive energy displays in a smart-grid trial in Florida but this one is designed to be simpler and cheaper, said Bill Paul, a product manager at GE Appliances.

The company is also working on a product, expected in the first half of next year, that would collect real-time electricity data from a meter without a smart meter. It would clasp onto a home's circuit box and use a Zigbee radio to connect to a home network.

"If we had a non smart-meter system, we would be selling these things today," he said. "It'd work at any home in America, that's the beauty of it."

The price for the Nucleus system is set at $149 and Zibgee-enabled appliances add about $50 to $70 in cost, Paul said.

Also on the energy side, GE is showing off its home charging station connected to a Chevy Volt, its energy-efficient lighting products, and a more efficient version of the Southwest Windpower home wind turbine. GE is an investor in Southwest Windpower.