Image via Google PowerMeter
A significant component to making home energy monitoring really catch on is the idea of making it into a competition. Manufacturers of dashboards and devices for power monitors note that when people can see not only their own data, but that of others, it strikes up a competitive spirit and turns saving energy into a more interesting endeavor. Google has apparently latched onto the idea as well, allowing users of their PowerMeter system to share energy consumption data with others. But is this just what we need to get people on board, or does it boarder on Too Much Information?Earthtechling pointed us to a new post at the Official Google Blog, which has announced that PowerMeter now allows you to share your energy consumption data with others, meaning everyone in your household can have their own iGoogle page that tracks their energy consumption, and it can be shared with one another, with friends, and with other Google PowerMeter users.
Google states that it's an opt-in sharing option, and that your privacy is protected. However, sharing information like power use has its risks - people can easily see your patterns and when you're on vacation if you choose to show your electricity usage habits. So while on the one hand, sharing information can spur you and others to conserve more, it can also be a potential risk. Just something to consider as you get excited about being part of the competition.
Issues like this are acknowledged by companies working on dashboards for home energy monitoring. The information can be made anonymous and set as a profile of a type of user, rather than as "Here's the information of John Doe three houses down from you." That profiling can accomplish the same goal as sharing detail-specific information about users. Google's PowerMeter, however, is you opting in to share your information, so it's entirely up to you whether or not you want others to see what your habits are. When it comes to family and friends, it's no big deal. But when it comes to sharing that with a broader user base, then things could get tricky.
In an age where we share everything down to what we had for dinner on platforms like Facebook and Twitter, this might not seem like a big deal to some. But for others who like to maintain a sense of privacy, sharing information like this could be off-putting.