Google’s PowerMeter: Energy Speedometer For Your Home

Google Powermeter Screenshot

PowerMeter from Google.orgGoogle is everywhere and now, they want you to be able to track your electricity consumption online using their PowerMeter product. PowerMeter has been available since October 2009 and works in conjunction with a homes’ existing smart electricity meter or with 3rd party energy monitoring devices. Having a smart meter alone is not enough to access your data using PowerMeter; your utility company must partner with Google in order to gain real-time access to your energy usage.

Once your utility partners with Google, as San Diego Gas & Electric and TXU Energy have, your homes’ energy consumption information will be available online and access to the PowerMeter application is provided free of charge.

ENVI Energy Consumption Monitor, Transmitter and CT ClampIf your utility company has not partnered with Google, another way to track your energy consumption online with PowerMeter is by purchasing a product like Current Cost’s ENVI monitor. Connecting the ENVI monitor is relatively simple; connect two CT clamps at the electrical box on your incoming power lines. A transmitter will then send the information to the ENVI monitor which can be up to 100′ away. The ENVI monitor tracks energy usage and when connected to a PC, the ENVI monitor will transmit the data to Google PowerMeter for online monitoring.

The only downside we can think of with Google’s PowerMeter is the phone call from an obsessively Jubbling working spouse monitoring energy usage online and questioning power consumption at home. “How many lights are on?”, “Why do we have two tv’s on?.”

But the benefits of the Google PowerMeter definitely override any downside and that is why we classify it as a speedometer for your home. With access to instant energy consumption information, homeowners will find ways to reduce and see the results real-time as they make changes. The 30 day lag we’re used to will be a thing of the past.

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Google Leads Coalition Urging Obama To Support Universal Smart Meters

This article originally appeared at BusinessGreen.com, and is reprinted with permission.

April 6, 2010 – James Murray, BusinessGreen.com – A group of over 45 energy, investment and IT firms, as well as a number of green NGOs have joined forces this week to call on US president Barack Obama to explicitly support the roll out of advanced smart meter technologies for every household and business in the US.

In an open letter to the president orchestrated by the Climate Group and backed by a host of big name technology and energy firms, such as Google, AT &T, Intel, GE, HP and Verizon, the coalition asks the administration to ” adopt the goal of giving every household and business access to timely, useful and actionable information on their energy use”.

“By giving people the ability to monitor and manage their energy consumption, for instance, via their computers, phones or other devices, we can unleash the forces of innovation in homes and businesses,” states the letter. “At the same time, we can harness the power of millions of people to reduce greenhouse gas emissions – and save consumers billions of dollars.”

Specifically, the group recommends that the administration launch a White House-led research programme to work out the best way of providing consumers and businesses with energy use information, while establishing effective privacy rules.

It also called for the administration to direct federal agencies to ensure that the availability of energy data forms part of a wide range of existing low carbon and energy projects, such as Obama’s home weatherisation, energy efficiency grants, appliance standards, home and commercial building programs, and clean tech R&D funding programmes.

The group added that there was a strong commercial case for supporting the roll out of smart meters and smart appliances capable of automatically turning off when not in use, noting that studies have shown they can help to cut household energy use by around 15 per cent.

Writing on Google’s official blog, the company’s Energy Policy Counsel Michael Terrell said that the group, which hosted its first event in Washington DC yesterday, would now work together to develop policy proposals that could help improve the availability of energy use data.

Most of the companies signed up to the group have a vested interest in the development of new smart meter and smart appliance technologies, with Google, for example, investing heavily in its recently launched PowerMeter online toolset.

The Obama administration has repeatedly signaled its support for smart grid technologies, earmarking large chunks of the stimulus package for investment in large-scale smart grid trials. However, the president has stopped short of emulating a number of European governments by setting a target date for the universal roll out of smart meters.

Jubbling’s Take: Having real-time access to your homes energy consumption is the equivalent of having a speedometer in your car. We consider this a Jubbling no-brainer.

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