News this week that the National Grid are proposing that all new white appliances get fitted with sensors, so that they can be shut down when demand for electricity gets too high, has both surprised and angered the nation.
The outlined plan is that all new appliances will be fitted with sensors, and when the grid struggles to meet demand they will temporarily shut off appliances. Fridges and freezers will shut down without warning and without consent. There has been no talk of compensation to customers who have their appliances switched off.
It will cost about £40 to add these sensors to new appliances, and it looks as though the cost will be added to the price of appliances. Critics of the proposed scheme have also said that energy giants who make millions of pounds extra profit under the scheme, as it would enable them to save money on firing up reserve generators and paying factories to switch off furnaces to reduce demand.
Viktor Sundberg, energy strategy manager at Electrolux, warned: ‘This is Big Brother technology on a grand scale. The device inside the fridge or freezer will automatically change the way the appliance operates in response to the output of the grid.
‘This method of shutting down household appliances could to be carried out almost instantly, saving the energy companies millions because they won’t have to start up the turbines or pay huge industrial companies to cut production. Consumers are not benefiting at all and will be left paying more when they buy the appliances, as well as having their private goods controlled by outside forces.’
Other electrical appliances such as electric ovens, washing machines and so fourth, will also have sensors which shut down devices fitted to them, if the proposals go ahead.
As our main power sources are housed outside the UK, it does arouse a slight anxiousness that another country could have so much power over electricity usage within our homes. It also begs the question to whether in the future if a household uses an excessive amount of energy whether power giants will also have control over reducing their carbon footprint.