Smart appliances can help you shift your electricity use to off-peak hours.

Smart appliances can help you shift your electricity use to off-peak hours.

Some manufacturers are now offering "smart" appliances -- appliances that can be connected to smart electric meters or home energy management systems to help you shift your electricity use to off-peak hours. Air conditioners, refrigerators, dishwashers, and other appliances may be available as smart appliances.

Smart appliances don't just turn off during times of peak electricity demand -- instead, they use subtle ways to shift energy use. You might not even be aware of it. For example, your air conditioner may run slightly less often. Or your refrigerator might delay its defrost cycle until the middle of the night. If your utility charges lower rates for electricity at night, also called time-based rates, you could save on your utility bill.

Such changes may be unnoticeable to you, but could add up to significant savings for your utility -- savings that can be shared with you. Your utility provider can tell you more about the availability of smart grid technologies and time-based electricity rates in your area and how they can benefit you.

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