Search giant Google is developing new monitoring tools to help families keep track of the amount of electricity they are using. The company’s philanthropic division is working on Google PowerMeter, a piece of software that will analyse the consumption information captured by “smart meters”, and translate it into easy-to-understand information to help people see where they could be reducing their energy use. Users will be able to monitor the PowerMeter through their computers and other web-enabled devices using a special widget embedded on their personalised iGoogle home page. Ed Lu, a member of Google’s engineering team, said that the company has been campaigning to force electricity suppliers to provide consumers with more detailed information about their home electricity use.
“In a world where everyone had a detailed understanding of their home energy use, we could find all sorts of ways to save energy and lower electricity bills,” he wrote on Google’s blog. “It may not sound like much, but if half of America’s households cut their energy demand by 10 per cent, it would be the equivalent of taking eight million cars off the road.” The Google PowerMeter is currently in development, and is being tested among select members of Google’s own staff before eventually being introduced to the wider public. It needs access to an advanced energy meter, known as a “smart meter”, which is capable of giving detailed information about power consumption. There are currently around 40 million smart meters in use around the world, although energy companies plan to install some 100 million more in the next few years, according to Google. Ed Lu said that Google’s mission was to organise the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful. To that ends, wrote Lu, Google was working on new ways to provide consumers and utilities with real-time energy information, and bring America’s “1950s-era electricity grid into the digital age” ( www.telegraph.co.uk )