Google tests online home energy monitor

Posted by Laura Grant on February 11, 2009
Posted in Green News

google-powermeter

Google is developing what sounds like an incredibly useful online tool, called  Powermeter, that will allow users so see their home energy consumption in near real time online.

Being aware of where in your home you’re using energy makes it easier to reduce your usage. Studies show that people save between 5 and 15 percent of their energy costs when they have access to information about their energy consumption, says the search engine giant.

A Google hardware engineer who was involved in beta-testing the PowerMeter prototype said on the company’s website: “By monitoring my energy use, I figured out that the bulk of my electricity was caused by my two 20-year-old fridges, my incandescent lights and my pool pump, which was set to run more than necessary. By replacing the refrigerators with new energy-efficient models, the lights with CFLs and setting the pool pump to only run at specified intervals, I’ve saved $3,000 in the past year and I am on track to save even more this year! ”

But in order to get this near real-time feedback you first need an advanced electricity meter known as a smart meter installed in your home. Google says there are currently about 40-million smart meters in use worldwide, with plans to add another 100-million in the next few years – 40-million are planned in the US alone over the next three years through President Barack Obama’s stimulus package.

Google idea is to make the information on smart meters available to consumers. “PowerMeter will receive energy consumption information from utility smart meters and energy management devices and provide anyone who signs up access to her home electricity consumption right on her iGoogle homepage,” the search engine giant says.

PowerMeter is currently still a prototype being tested by Google employees, but the company hopes to partner with utilities and smart energy device makers (presumably in the United States) and eventually make the tool available for free to consumers.

Sounds to me like this is something Eskom should be keeping an eye on because it could be a handy tool to help South Africans reduce their electricity consumption by the required 10 percent.

Meanwhile, Microsoft is reportedly about to make available an add-on “Environmental Dashboard” application for Microsoft Dynamics AX. It is geared at business users, to help them analyse and reduce their energy use. It also provides information on greenhouse gas emissions. You can read more about it on CNet

Source: Salon.com, EcoGeek

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