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Google PowerMeter: Mapping Electricity Consumption in the Home

By David Holmes on June 9, 2009

Energy consumers are constantly advised to save electricity in their home or workplace, but how many people actually understand what this entails? Without doubt, it is fairly obvious that unnecessarily leaving equipment on all day will result in a waste of electricity. This can also be applied to leaving a television or sky box on standby, or running an old appliance with poor energy efficiency. However, the extent to which these actually affect electricity consumption is unclear. Indeed, consumers gain little awareness from their electricity bills that simply show the amount of electricity used over a month, the peak times at which the energy was consumed and how much it all cost.

Thus, step forward the Google PowerMeter. Currently undergoing trial services in parts of the USA, Canada and India, the Google PowerMeter, which is provided by – a good causes organisation that manages the Google Foundation, which was established by but remains legally separate from Google Incorporated – may be rolled out across the world during the next few years. The Google PowerMeter works by monitoring a household’s energy consumption in a secure Google gadget, which then provides detailed information to the consumer. This information will include an analysis of the electricity usage for each electrical appliance (that is fed by the mains power) in the home, which will give the consumer the valuable data they need in order to make informed decisions on how to save electricity.

Out With The Old, In With The New

By way of an example, if an energy consumer uses the Google PowerMeter to spot that their old washing machine is causing the electricity to spike considerably during its three hour cycle, they will be able to determine whether there is a financial benefit in replacing it with a more energy efficient model. Furthermore, detailing precisely how much electricity is spent unnecessarily, such as when appliances are left on standby for any length of time, will enable the consumer to review their own habits and, hopefully, will allow them to save on energy prices.