GE's demand-response refrigerator can make adjustments to its settings based on peak-time price signals from the utility. It can also reduce its consumption significantly just by deciding when to run the defrost cycle to remove ice from a fridge's coils.
Right now, refrigerators defrost based on how often the door is opened and closed, GE executives explained. Energy use can be cut dramatically simply by running the defrost cycle, or making ice, in the middle of the night when demand for electricity is low.
GE executives said it's hard to say exactly how much its demand-response appliances will save consumers because prices vary across the country and many utilities don't yet use time-of-use pricing. One of these appliances, which will cost about $10 more than a regular GE model, can reduce its consumption on the order of 20 percent, they said.