Hey Big Brother, Leave That Fridge Alone

April 29, 2013

Smart fridge

Reading the Mail on Sunday isn’t a regular part of my weekend routine, but an Internet of Things related front page headline caught my eye for obvious reasons, so I read a little more of the article.

It starts talking about power giants pushing through EU regs forcing us to have sinister chips installed in our white goods, like fridges and freezers, to track temperature, power consumption and so on.

It then spends most of the article frothing at the mouth about how said power giants will turn off all our appliances without our consent, in order to save electricity at peak times (squeezing in a picture of the Royal Wedding for good measure and an example of peak electricity consumption).

It’s not until right at the end of the piece where they bring in a spokesperson from the National Grid to explain a tiny bit about how the technology actually works and what it actually means:

“One of the proposed requirements is for a limited number of (future) temperature controlled devices such as fridges and freezers to have the capability to assist the real time balancing of electricity supply and demand by automatically switching off devices for short durations. This should result in benefits to consumers as it will lead to a reduced requirement for additional back-up electricity sources.”

Yeah, but who’s going to pay for my melty ice cream and rancid milk then?

“It will have no material impact on the operation of fridges and freezers, switching will be for a few seconds and only occasionally. Consumers’ produce will remain cool in their fridges and frozen in their freezers.”

Oh, ok then. I suppose it all sounds suspiciously sensible and probably a useful thing for the planet too given the CO2 impact of most energy production. But lets not let that interfere with a good headline.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Andy Hobsbawm

Andy Hobsbawm

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