The Department of Energy (DOE) on Monday issued a request for information (RFI) on emerging market trends and innovations in smart appliances and commercial equipment.
DOE said it aims to get insight on the direction of smart technologies, including any "energy efficiency trends or issues with respect to appliances or equipment incorporating smart technologies," so that it does not impede the growth of the sector.
The RFI comes months after a federal district court in California ruled that the White House must implement efficiency standards for four different types of appliances that were finalized in the waning days of the Obama administration, but put on hold by President Trump.
"Smart" appliances connected to the internet, from thermostats to water heaters and washing machines, can help turn homes into grid assets that can modulate their energy consumption based on price signals or utility direction.
The latest interest from the DOE is an indication the technology is maturing. The agency says it "understands the significant investments in innovation being made with respect to such products."
Already, some utilities are using programmable water heaters or smart thermostats for residential demand management, and DOE said it wants to ensure it does not curtail the growth of the sector with regulations.
"DOE's intent in issuing this RFI is to gather information to ensure that DOE does not inadvertently impede such innovation in fulfilling its statutory responsibilities in setting efficiency standards for covered products and equipment," it wrote.
Last year, the DOE issued a similar RFI to gather information about potential changes to its appliance efficiency program. The move came after the agency put multiple efficiency standards on hold for appliances like commercial boilers and uninterruptible power supplies.
The RFI comes a month after leaked DOE documents revealed the agency is considering repealing energy efficiency standards for lightbulbs, which conservation advocates say are some of the most significant consumption-reducing rules issued by the department.
The RFI was published in the Federal Register on Sept. 17. Responses are due in mid-November.