Last week in my blog I covered the real advances that Google has made in reducing the energy used in IT data centers. This week Google has turned its attention to power wastes in the home. And while Google doesn't have any direct control over our home power system, the company presumably hopes to encourage conservation by providing real-time monitoring of power consumption.
There's a blog post on The Official Google Blog that summarizes the technology. The concept requires smart power meters -- and there aren't many such meters installed today. But Google claims that consumers that have real-time access to energy usage data cut monthly bills by 5% to 15%. The company also claims that a 10% reduction in use in half of the home in the US would equate to removing 3ight million cars from the road.
The blog post is really just a front for a series of web pages that Google has posted on the subject. A page on Smarter Power notes that 40 million US homes will get smart meters over the next three years with support from President Obama's proposed stimulus package.
There is also a Google event focused on the Smart Grid scheduled for next Tuesday Feb 17 in Washington, DC . It's conveniently coincident with the APEC show so attendees might check the Smart Grid even that is jointly sponsored by GE.
Now one side of me thinks that Google is in this case trying to garner notice for a hot subject in which it really has little play. The Google software monitor is certainly not the only way consumer will be able to monitor smart meters. Indeed I've run a couple of articles (see links below) over on the Digital Home DesignLine on Zigbee-based smart meter systems that could link to a home PC or even a dedicated power monitor. I also have written about the Black & Decker monitor that can adapt to use on most existing meters. Google is really crashing this party late. And I'd suspect they have some kind of model in mind to make money through their software widget.