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“If it’s expensive and inefficient to start it up at that moment, it will wait until a better time,” she says.

She doesn’t even have to be home when that happens.

VEP and the co-op hope eventually to provide 100 percent of the Vineyard’s power with wind and solar energy during the off season, purchasing power to supplement those sources during the peak times of the summer, when the island’s year-round population of 16,000 can swell to 110,000 people.

“The best part is saving money,” Ms. Gelinas says. “It really makes us more aware of the bigger picture and how we are part of the bigger picture. Now we’re on a crusade to turn the lights off.”

How does it work? Through a cell-phone-charger-sized device called the GE Nucleus; the device works with GE’s Brillion technology and interacts with smart meters and helps homeowners manage energy consumption.

“We want to disaggregate the brains from the display device,” Mr. McCalpin says. “That way we can take advantage of the screens that are already in the home.”

In other words, you’ll have the information or controls you need right on your computer desktop. Ms. Gelinas notes that the program can tell her how much energy her solar panels are producing along with information about electricity usage.

Nucleus, which will retail for about $150 to $200 later this year, stores data for three years and is upgradable as current technology develops.

GE appliances with Brillion technology include Energy Star-qualified refrigerators, dishwashers, washing machines, dryers, ranges, microwaves and a hybrid water heater that uses the latest heat-pump technology.

“People are really pleased to have a better understanding of what they are consuming,” Mr. McCalpin says. “We’ve been in the dark forever about how we consume electricity.”

Nucleus works with utilities that have time-of-use electricity plans. The Greater Washington area isn’t quite on the smart grid yet, but the handwriting is on the wall.

“It’s definitely coming,” Mr. DePew says. “It may not be here right now, but it’s on the way.”

In the meantime, you still can preheat the oven, warm up the bathroom or even check in on what your teenagers are doing after school long before you walk in the door.

Because tomorrow is - gulp - today.