Google has secured its position as the web search engine, to the point that the word Google has become a verb that has, for all intents and purposes, replaced the word "search" when it comes to looking for information online. So, now it's turning it's focus to other things, namely providing an easy way for average Joes concerned about global warming to know exactly what they're consuming so that they can reduce. Coming soon to a power meter near you is a tool called Google PowerMeter. Used with a smart electric meter installed at your house or apartment, it will let you see your electricity consumption in real time in a secure iGoogle Gadget on your Google homepage.
It's been done before, but not for the masses, and it was cool. Last winter I was at Aspen/Snowmass, and when I walked into one of the lodges, was wondering what was on TV, as there was a small crowd gathered around a flat screen TV. Turn out the were checking out the resorts power consumption. Aspen Ski Company had installed energy monitoring devices in their buildings, and had put displays in the lobby. According to Aspen's Executive Director of Community and Environmental Responsibility, "there are studies that show just feedback on energy use reduces consumption."
Aspen was using PowerView, made by InPower, which most frequently installs solar power systems, and then provides you with their PowerView monitoring system. It's pretty cool, but it's not free.
Which is why Google's tool is so cool--it is free. And you can kind of glance at it at any point all day as you surf the web, find your friends on facebook, or actually get some of the work done that your boss is paying you to do. The only catch--it's not available yet. Google staff have been using the beta version, and you can read through their life changing, apartment saving, awareness building anecdotes. In the mean time, Google does have a link to energy saving tips, including computing tips, where you can download the Google Desktop Power Management Gadget that automatically sets your computer to the most energy efficient settings. The first thousand users have saved 446 gas tanks worth of energy, or the power that it would take to heat and light nine US homes for a year.
So no excuses, download now, find out from your electric company how to get a smart meter, and keep checking back with Google for a definte date when the PowerMeter will be available.
Know of any other easy to use ways to track your energy consumption? If so, please share below!