ZigBee is a wireless protocol that allows smart grid-enabled appliances to communicate with utilities that have implemented Time-of-Use pricing. With Time-of-Use pricing protocols, utilities can communicate the current cost of electricity to appliances. Appliances can then reduce their energy use at times of increased demand (and, therefore, increased cost), decreasing the risk of power disruption and saving the consumer money. Utilities can also signal the appliances when pricing is at its lowest, allowing consumers to take advantage of these low-price periods to perform energy-intensive tasks at the lowest rates and at times of least electricity demand.
According to GE, the ZigBee certification “is a huge step in our strategy of supporting multiple protocols as the smart grid gets rolled out. With this technology, both consumers and the utilities will have more information and be able to make better decisions than ever about energy usage.”