Google and Partner Offer Home Energy Management Without Smart Meters
By: SGN Staff
Google and Energy Inc. have partnered to provide a home power-measuring device that works with Google's energy management software to give homeowners detailed information about their power consumption that can help them monitor and reduce energy consumption.
Google earlier this year unveiled its PowerMeter Web tool that allows homeowners to monitor their energy consumption. But the PowerMeter required a utility-installed smart meter to work. While the intelligent meters capable of providing frequent and detailed energy use information are being rolled out by the millions, relatively few American homes now have them.
But Google's PowerMeter and Energy Inc.'s TED 5000 (The Energy Detective) work together without the need for a smart meter. Homeowners can monitor their energy use from a Web browser or smart phone equipped with iGoogle. The information provided includes real-time energy use and approximate cost, trends and comparisons to previous use.
Google, which has been making aggressive forays into Smart Grid technology, provides the software free of charge. The Energy Inc. device, which runs with Google's software, costs roughly $200. However, most consumers probably will be reluctant to install the TED 5000 themselves because it requires removing the cover of the home electrical panel, which is generally best left to an electrician.
This is only one of Google's ventures in Smart Grid technology. While well-known for its overwhelmingly popular search engine and Internet advertising, it also is working to develop software to link hybrid vehicles to the electric grid and mirror technology that is intended to cut the cost of solar thermal plant construction.
Quick Take: Many traditional Smart Grid technology companies have discounted Google's early energy efforts. It's true the company is not yet breaking any real ground. But they may be overlooking the fact that Google has, for all practical purposes, unlimited funds. The Google Smart Grid strategy? They will give things away to consumers, to utilities and to Smart Grid technology companies until they get critical mass. Then they will monetize based on what they have learned about customers with ads that they can target with eerie precision. Someday in the not-too-distant future Google will know not just every search term you've ever typed in, not just every Web site you've ever visited, not just every item you've ever purchased online - but also when you stayed home for work, when you had visitors and when you go to bed every night, based on simple observation and extrapolation of your energy consumption.
Google’s energy initiative article by Reuters
Smart Grid and Consumers commentary from SGN