Green: Google’s PowerMeter

Anyone who’s driven a Prius knows that one of the factors contributing to its stellar reputation for sipping gasoline is that the display on the dashboard provides its driver with immediate feedback.  Prius drivers can learn how to become more efficient by coasting up to the stoplight, keeping the speedometer under 65 mpg, etc.

Google is aiming to do to your dwelling what Toyota did for the Prius — allow you to see your home’s energy usage information in real time to help you improve your efficiency.  While this program is not yet available to the general public — Google is currently testing it out with their employees — it will eventually be offered free to homes equipped with advanced energy meters called “smart meters.”

More on how this system works, err, will work, after the jump . . .

Googles PowerMeter

Google's PowerMeter

So, how does this work?  Once you’re hooked up, you should be able to get “near real-time feedback” on your electricity usage which would allow you to see how much energy you’d save by lowering your air conditioning by 2 degrees, turning off that lamp, or powering down your laptop before hitting the sack.  You’d also be able to compare your usage to similar homes in your neighborhood.

Studies show that just knowing your households electricity use is likely to save you 5-15% on your monthly bill.  According to Google, for every six households that save 10% on electricity, we reduce carbon emissions as much as taking one conventional car off the road.  (Sources and calculation).

By monitoring my energy use, I figured out that the bulk of my electricity was caused by my two 20-year-old fridges, my incandescent lights and my pool pump, which was set to run more than necessary. By replacing the refrigerators with new energy-efficient models, the lights with CFLs and setting the pool pump to only run at specified intervals, I’ve saved $3,000 in the past year and I am on track to save even more this year! –Russ, Google Hardware Engineer

Check out the google.org Energy Information website for more information on this innovative project.  Is this something you’d want in your pad?  Do you think it would change your behavior?

This article brought to you by the good folks at Urbane Apartments Royal Oak Michigan, Urbane Apartments Ferndale Michigan,Urbane Apartments Birmingham Michigan, and Urbane Apartments Dearborn Michigan

  • Renee

    What a cool idea- let’s hope it gets beyond the conceptual stage sooner rather than later. This seems like it would be a great stimulus package project- infusion of cash now, long- term savings and positive environmental effects later. Urbane Apts- wanna do a pilot?

  • Franklin Covey

    I sure wish DTE offered this! They could even charge a few dollars per month for the future and its customers could save it back by lowering useage. Win, win, win solution!

  • Brandon

    Hey Renee and Franklin – thanks so much for the comments. I agree — what a cool feature this would be to have at home! Seems like we fly mostly blind when it comes to our energy usage in the home. You might realize your air is on a lot or you’re cooking more than normal — but mostly it’s just a surprise @ the end of the month.

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