Google PowerMeter tracks home juice use

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Google PowerMeter tracks home juice use

Google wants consumers to have direct access to real-time electricity information, and has developed plans for a PowerMeter tool while setting forth its latest agenda for the development of a "smarter" electricity grid.

PowerMeter will update consumers on their home energy consumption from a personalised iGoogle homepage.

"Most people don't know how much electricity their appliances use, where in the house they are wasting electricity, or how much the bill might go up during different seasons," said Google engineer Ed Lu in a post on the Google.org blog, which details the search firm's latest philanthropic efforts.

"In a world where everyone had a detailed understanding of their home energy use, we could find all sorts of ways to save energy and lower electricity bills. "

Google anticipates that the average consumer could see energy savings of as much as 15 per cent by using the tool.

The PowerMeter launch is part of Google's latest investments in grid technology. In September 2008, the firm teamed up with US supplier General Electric to look at ways of creating a more efficient energy industry.

"We will focus on improving power generation, transmission and distribution - a combination of technologies that could be known as the smart grid," Google said at the time. "It would be fair to refer to electricity technologies in common use today as a grid of only average intelligence."

Google explained in a new report sent to the California Public Utility Commission this week that PowerMeter will draw data from utility smart meters and energy management devices to give people an accurate idea of their home electricity use.

"Commission policy should ensure that utility smart grid installations and technology are open and compatible with tools and products that could help consumers manage their energy demand in ways that benefit everyone," the report advised.

The PowerMeter software will be made available to the public after an internal beta. In the meantime, the company is working on partnerships with utilities and independent device manufacturers to roll out PowerMeter in pilot programmes.

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