After abandoning a similar project several years ago, Google is reportedly once again interested in looking at how it might help consumers use energy around the home more efficiently.
According to The Information, which spoke to people familiar with the matter, Google is currently running a program called EnergySense involving the testing of Internet-connected home thermostats by a team of so-called ‘trusted testers’, in other words, non-Google employees.
The hardware for Google’s project is reportedly made by energy solutions outfit Ecobee, although its CEO, Stuart Lombard, says his firm has no official arrangement with the Mountain View company. However, he added Google could still be using his firm’s hardware for the EnergySense program.
It’s believed that Google’s intention isn’t to go head-to-head with the likes of Nest, a company which already produces a smart thermostat and in which Google Ventures has a heavy investment, but rather create applications and offer services in connection with collated data.
For some of you, this will all sound rather familiar, as a few years ago Google was indeed dabbling in a similar space with its PowerMeter tool.
The application was designed to work with smart power meters to allow homeowners to track energy use in their home over time, with the idea that such monitoring would lead to more efficient consumption and in turn, lower utility bills. Google said at the time that when people have access to information about energy use in their home, they’re able to change their habits, helping them to reduce energy use by around 15 percent on average. However, Google pulled the plug on the tool in September 2011.
Of course, Google has a ton of ideas and projects in the works at any one time, so who knows if this one will see the light of day as far as consumers are concerned, or if it’ll simply fall by the wayside. The fact that it appears to be returning to an area it looked at several years ago, however, suggests Google is keen on taking the idea all the way this time around.