Google 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: