What if you had choice? (Homeowner version)
Sunday, June 24, 2007 at 09:00PM
Toby Considine in Background

What if you had choices as to how you use and buy power for your businesses and home? What would you choose?

What do homeowners choose? Not economy very often, or for very long. Not virtue, very often, or for very long. We choose autonomy. We choose things that reinforce our self image. We choose status; we choose Cool.

We do not buy complex. Or actually, we do, and then we return it to the store when we can’t figure it out. Control systems are detailed and specific. They need to know every detail that goes on. This means that we don’t want to know all about them. They must be wrapped up, packaged, and all that exquisite and mundane detail hidden. The interface to control systems must be simple and elegant. But what if our building systems had simple elegant interfaces you home computer could discover and talk to, as it talks to printers.

Why are there so many printers at Best Buy? It’s because you can plug them in and you computer will recognize them. Computer peripherals have abstract discoverable interfaces that support heterogeneity. Do you have a color two-sided printer? You find that out when you connect. You do not need to know how it works. If you don’t like your printer, you get a new one, so a lot of printers are sold. What if you could choose building systems like you can choose printers?

What if you had a choice as to when and at what price you buy power? Would you buy it all the time, or buy it when it was expensive? What if instead of giving control to the power company, you were in control? What if instead of avoiding charges, you got a check. Like a rebate. People like rebates.

What if you could get money for storing energy? Energy storage can be anything from the water tank 40 feet in the air storing wind power on the ranch I grew up on, to over-air conditioning early in the day, to hydrogen systems. What if you could use the cash you got to store energy? What if storing energy made you not care about how lousy the power you get is? What if storing energy gave you more flexibility so you could earn still more cash from the power company? Would you choose buy more energy storage?

What if you could choose who would operate your home’s systems? What if it was easy to orchestrate each system, Air Conditioning or Pool, Hot Tub or Storage, and how they respond to energy prices? Would you want software to run them yourself? Can we make home systems as discoverable as the home printer? Would you run it as a service on Microsoft Home Server? Would you outsource it to someone who already has an internet connection in your house? Would it be the cable company, the phone company, or the home security company? What if you could choose between setting and forgetting, or personal control? What if you could maximize comfort when you have guests, or maximize economy when your in-laws are visiting? What if you could be in control?

What if home and business owners could feel good about their power? What if you could choose to buy green power, or green power safe for birds, or the cheapest power out there. What if you could chose every day, or set and forget, whatever you choose.

We all want to be in charge of our own lives and homes, and to feel good about ourselves. We do not want to relinquish control to anyone.

But what if you could choose?

Article originally appeared on New Daedalus (http://www.newdaedalus.com/).
See website for complete article licensing information.