In what might feel like a change of direction for the web search giants, the tool is designed to monitor the amount of energy you’re using throughout the home, to allow you to save energy and money, of course.
The software receives information from utility smart meters and in-home energy management devices and visualizes this information on a personalized iGoogle homepage.
This is good news.
I’ve said for a while that people will only start watching their energy consumption when they realise how much it’s really costing them, and currently this is difficult to achieve, as bills tend to cover a few months worth of consumption, so conscious changes to our usage don’t show an immediate effect. Also, energy bills are so confusing that we tend to switch off when they hit the doormat, pay up, and vow to stop using the central heating for a few months – not really altering our energy usage habits.
If you can get near instant feedback on how much you can save by keeping the lights off in rooms you’re not using, or by switching your TV off standby, then the incentive to save the energy should be much more apparent.
On the downside, you’ll need either a device that you fit yourself from AlertMe, costing £69, plus £2.99 per month, which doesn’t strike me as being particularly cheap, or you’ll have to sign up to take your energy from supplier first:utility. Which makes the scheme a little limited at the moment, but things are definitely moving in the right direction.
Once the scheme is opened up to more providers, the data available should make switching to another energy provider far simpler, as you’ll have your usage easily to hand – indeed, you may be able to simply upload your Powermeter data to a comparison site and they’ll find the provider that gives you the best price based on your energy usage.
For a simpler and cheaper alternative to Google Powermeter, take a look at the OWL range of electricity monitors on Amazon.
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