Jen van der Meer

Google Wants You to Know Your Own Power

Published: (Updated: ) in Clean Tech, Inhabitat, Open Forum, by .

At Open Forum for Inhabitat:

If you could know the energy usage of all of the appliances and gadgets in your home, right now, on your handheld device, would you look?  Would you care? Google’s philanthropic arm, Google.org, believes that you would care, and that you would change your behavior to lower your household environmental impact. Google.org developed a free, Web-based tool that visually shows your personal home power consumption, the Power Meter. However, unless you draw your power from the few public utilities that allow for “smart” energy monitoring, you have no window into how your home consumes energy in real time. Until now.

Google.org recently launched a partnership with Energy, Inc., the manufacturers of the Energy Detective, which provides a way for consumers to monitor their home energy use with a live data feed to the web. Installation of theTED 5000 requires a technically knowledgeable person or an electrician to connect to a home’s electrical panel. Once the device is installed, it can measure shifts in power usage at the single watt level, all visualized through the Power Meter. Consumers are then able to monitor their home energy usage at home on the web, or from any hand-held or net-enabled device.

The hope is that consumers will become aware of the energy loads needed to power the appliances and electronics in their home, even from those “vampire devices” that suck electricity even when turned off. Now, Google, Energy Inc., and early adopter consumers will find out if real time data visualizations will actually affect home energy use. Tom Sly, a senior manager on Google’s new business development team, told the NY Times Bits Blog, “PowerMeter is really focused on the problem of climate change. We believe that this actually does cause people to reduce consumption.” What do you think? If you could check your home energy usage the way that you check your email and social media feeds, would it affect how much energy you use?