Google Brings the Smart Grid to You

Google.org unveiled plans to make smart grid information available to consumers.

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Forgetting to turn off a TV or the lights is a waste of energy, we know - but without knowing how much, it's an amorphous eco-sin with no real consequences. Google.org, the philanthropic branch of the search engine, aims to change that with Google PowerMeter, a tracking device that will help consumers see how much power they're using, and where it's coming from, in real time.

PowerMeter would sync up with the smart meters that many utility customers already have. Companies that partner with Google will take data from the smart meters and make it available for real time graphing via a Google widget. Consumers would be able to see when they are consuming the most, and what devices are sucking the most energy. You can also opt to share your energy data to see how you stack up to other Americans, and encourage friendly competition.

A few bloggers have pointed out problems - namely, that not all smart meters are created equal, and some do not report data in real time. Smart grid technology is a beneficiary of the proposed stimulus bill, though, and proponents argue that the installation of the grids will create jobs nationwide.

Looking to save energy? Here are some tips.