On the Horizon: Monitor Your Home Energy Use With Google PowerMeter

Google creates a prototype iGoogle application to provide real-time data on home energy use.

| July/August 2009

About 40 million homeowners worldwide employ smart meters to help monitor and program home energy use. Unlike traditional meters that measure only total consumption, smart meters let homeowners and utilities see how and when electricity is being used. Now the folks at Google have come up with a strategy to make them even more useful: The prototype iGoogle application PowerMeter provides nearly real-time data on home energy use right to your Google homepage.

Google PowerMeter will empower users to more accurately monitor home electricity use. As a Lord Kelvin quote on PowerMeter’s web page says, “If you cannot measure it, you cannot improve it.” The application will let homeowners see exactly how much energy it takes to turn on the clothes dryer or PC, or show a teenager the energy wasted by leaving lights on.

Google plans to partner with utility companies to offer free PowerMeters to smart-meter users. They’ll simply download the program to their desktops. Google employees are testing the prototype; at the time of printing, no launch date has been announced.

Secure data is a top priority for Google, for consumers and utility partners; it’s a major aspect of the prototype research. Google wants homeowners to feel secure that their energy-use information will not be shared between Google and their utility, that all energy data will be stored securely and that they can cancel service at any time.

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