Warren Buffett wants to tell you the best time to wash your clothes.

Or at least his energy company in the U.K does. Buffett’s Northern Powergrid Holdings Co. is working with Siemens AG to test a so-called smart grid that has the ability to control when consumer appliances will be used in the home.

Being able to better manage when electricity flows allows utilities to lower consumer costs by reducing the need for new equipment, and to better handle surges and gaps from intermittent sources such as wind and solar. The pilot program, known as the Customer-Led Network Revolution, involves just 12,000 households in the U.K. and is one of only a few such projects being tested worldwide.

“This sort of technology is really important to the future of energy,” said Vincent Thornley, head of Siemens’s U.K. smart-grid research, in an interview. “Rather than building new cable networks and putting in new transformers, we can make better use of” existing systems by using automation.

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