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Google Wants Big Piece Of Home Energy Management Biz

googlepowermeter3Google has unveiled Google PowerMeter, a prototype Web application that displays home energy consumption broken down by appliance. The software requires “smart” meters, which provide real-time information to both the utility and the customer, Mercury News reports.

The idea with the PowerMeter is that if people knew how much electricity they were using to run individual electric appliances, they’d cut down use.

Google cites figures showing that regularly viewing real-time energy use prods people to cut electricity by 5 percent to 15 percent on average through behavioral changes. That could translate to saving $60 to $180 per year for a U.S. household with an annual average electricity bill of $1,200.

Engineer Russ Mirov, one of the 30 Google employees testing the software, told CNET’s Green Tech blog that he was able to reduce his electricity use 64 percent over the past year, saving $3,000, by replacing inefficient refrigerators and running his pool pump at scheduled intervals.

The PowerMeter will work on an iGoogle home page when it becomes available to the public sometime later this year.

According to The New York Times:

Google plans to enhance PowerMeter with “social” tools that will allow users to compare their electricity consumption with that of their neighbors or friends. And it plans to allow third parties to develop their own applications that would enhance its usefulness. A programmer, for instance, could create a tool that normalizes the data for variations in weather.

Even though it’s not ready for prime time, Google is providing info on the product in the hope of interesting potential partners.

Google is also trying to influence smart-grid policy. Earlier this week, the search giant published recommendations to the California Public Utility Commission, promoting free real time home energy data for consumers in standard formats.

Last November, Google joined the Demand Response and Smart Grid Coalition. Google is also spending tens of millions on research and development and related investments in renewable energy under an initiative dubbed RE<C, for Renewable Energy Cheaper Than Coal, which was announced last year.

Here’s a Gogle video:

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3 thoughts on “Google Wants Big Piece Of Home Energy Management Biz

  1. With PowerMeter, Google is validating the valuable role of energy monitoring in empowering end users with the information they need to take control of their personal energy consumption. I work with Fat Spaniel Technologies (www.fatspaniel.com), and we absolutely support Google’s stated principle that “open protocols and standards should serve as the cornerstone of smart grid projects” (from their blog). Last year we announced the industry’s first open energy monitoring solution – the Fat Spaniel Insight Platform™. We believe that in order to provide users with a complete energy solution, it must be an open platform that can monitor all devices and systems and distill the data into usable information. As such, Fat Spaniel will extend its open, standardized interface to Google’s PowerMeter once it is publicly released.

  2. Smart Meters won’t be smart until they can actually power down appliances, electronics, etc. that aren’t in use. The assumption of the rational consumer altering their behavior in light of superior information is questionable at best, and flat-wrong at worst. Let’s be honest with ourselves: we’ve been informed about the dangers of pollution and global warming / climate change since the 1980s, and at no point have we as a society robustly internalized those risks. Until some authority steps in and dictates stringent regulation on how power is used, and where that power comes from – until we’re made to see that free-market economics is not the savior of all things (and that it’s masquerade as verifiable, repeatable ‘science’ is hogwash… I’m amazed that we put so much faith in something that can be manipulated to describe something after the fact but cannot predict the future… oh, wait! That’s faith!) – we’re going to continue to shoot ourselves in the foot. It’ll take either that or a major, major catastrophe.

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