Thursday, August 13, 2009

Google's PowerMeter Gadget - Take Control of Your Energy Use

When Dan Reicher was lecturing at Yestermorrow School in Warren, VT a few weeks ago he shared with us details of the Google's new PowerMeter gadget, freely available online. It is in the pilot program phase working in coordination with select utility partners. The PowerMeter hooks up to your electrical service fuse box in your home via a small reader which apparently costs $150 or so. It allows homeowners or business owners to monitor energy use in real time wirelessly within the home or by mobile phone.
Doing so enables energy consumers to monitor their energy use behaviors, what kinds of spikes happen when appliances turn on and off. It helps you understand how much your TV, computer or various plugged in appliances cost you. Conversely it shows you what happens when you shift your behavior. As Dan said in the lecture with one of his slides, "If you cannot measure it, you cannot improve it - Lord Kelvin"
This will be hopefully but one of many examples of collaborations between the energy industries and outside partners like Google. Similar to other viral, collaborative efforts perhaps behavior changing gadgets or add-ons will make a difference in our energy usage combined together with shifts to mainstream adoption of green building and energy efficiency practices.
There is strength in numbers. I just hope all of these efforts can reach a consensus of sorts on energy measurement integration standards so this is easy, transparent and effective. Not creation again of another set of closed or propietary systems which don't talk with each other all attempting to beat each other at the same energy use modification game. This also the kind of equipment which would be really cool for public and private buildings to have so building occupants, facility managers and the general public could see energy use on its own terms. It would be great for LEED buildings to be up on the Web hooked into the Google Gadget and kids could see how their Dorm building, classroom building etc. is doing and talk about it in class or work together in energy nerd conservation competitions to see who could reduce their energy use the most. In the process, kids and all involved would learn game changing behaviors to take into life beyond the campus, elementary, middle, or high school.
Gee whiz!

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