February 18, 2009 by Steven Castle
In the not-too-distant future, you should be able to Google your home’s electricity consumption.
Yes, the Internet and search behemoth is getting into the energy monitoring game with a Google PowerMeter, still in prototype. Studies show that access to information about energy usage leads to savings of 10 percent to 20 percent. That means $$$.
Even better, Google’s PowerMeter will be free. It’s being designed to work with two-way smart meters being rolled out by the utilities. The two-way meters will also allow the utilities to monitor your power usage. And that can be a good thing, because it gives the utilities more information on overall power usage and allows services like demand response or demand-side management, in which homes and businesses earn discounts for allowing the utility to cut power to appliances like washers and dryers during peak load periods.
Think the energy monitoring manufacturers are concerned about Google’s entry into this potentially huge market? “We’re happy that they announced their PowerMeter, because it simply throws a larger spot light on the energy efficiency space,” says Collin Breakstone, vp of high-end energy monitoring company Agilewaves. “We’ve been swimming upstream for a long time now, and with the new economic stimulus bill and the focused attention of big players such as Google, all of the sudden the current is with us.”
Google estimates that 40 million smart meters could be rolled out in the next few years, in accordance with the just-signed U.S. stimulus bill.
The cable and telcos may be watching this carefully as well. Blogger Robert Cringely posts that the PowerMeter is really Google’s way to become an ISP for millions of homes. Interesting.
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Steven Castle is Electronic House's managing editor. he has been writing about consumer electronics, homes and energy efficiency topics for two decades. He is also the co-founder of GreenTech Advocates
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