Next time you run the dryer for an hour just to take care of a dozen socks, you may just get a kick in the pants from seeing the spike, in real-time, on your own electricity usage. On Tuesday, Google introduced a Web application known as PowerMeter that could help homeowners monitor their own electricity usage in the future.
By communicating with smart power meters that relay usage information back to power companies (rather than just spinning a dial to record it,) PowerMeter will display a graph of electricity usage over time, with different trends labeled to show the appliances that are causing them. Google hopes to introduce it as an iGoogle application, allowing users to keep an eye on usage easily, and therefore change their habits to cut down on waste.
In Google’s promotional video for PowerMeter, one engineer claims to have cut his own usage by 64 percent and saved an estimated $3,000 on his electricity bill using an early version of PowerMeter.
Though Google has handled the software implementation, consumers won’t be able to take advantage of it without smart power meters, which remain rare, and the right standards for publishing the information that they produce.
For the moment, PowerMeter remains a closed release in private testing among Google employees until the hardware side of the equation falls into place for the public. According to Google, that could be soon, since the proposed economic stimulus package (PDF) on the table in Washington includes provisions for the installation of 40 million such meters over the next three years.
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