Image via Google
Google's energy monitoring dashboard, PowerMeter, moved onto the scene back in February. In May, they announced their first set of utility partners who were to take on the dashboard as something to offer to the utilities' customers. However, anyone who wanted to use PowerMeter had to be a customer of a utility that offered it because the utility is what aggregated the energy use data. That's why in April, Google mentioned they wanted to bring on a smart meter-like device that would allow anyone the ability to monitor their energy use with PowerMeter. Yesterday, the company unveiled their first device partnership partnership with an old TreeHugger favorite, TED. So the exciting part? You (if you're in North America) could start using PowerMeter today!The device of choice is the TED 5000. It's super simple to install, and runs between $200 and $300, depending on what package you purchase. PowerMeter, however, is free to use and accessable from anywhere you can hop on the web, including your phone. So the cost of getting started is reasonable and considering that just by knowing your energy use, you're likely to reduce it by about 15% without even thinking about it, the device will start paying its keep upon installation. And if you already have a TED device, you just need a free firmware upgrade.
While power monitoring devices abound, it's the dashboard that really is key in getting people to reduce energy consumption. It's one thing to measure energy use, and another to present it to the user in a way that makes them want to conserve. The information needs to be presented in a format that is understandable, as well as easily accessible. Power monitors will benefit from having a dashboard that users love, and can be easily integrated into a daily routine - such as Google's PowerMeter. Not only does Google benefit from having a device that cuts out the requirement of working with slow-to-move-forward utilities, TED benefits by having a whole new audience of people who are suddenly interested in their device because it has a Google-powered user interface, as well as the device suddenly having an interesting new dashboard that TED didn't have to put resources into building. And of course the user benefits from the partnership in an obvious way. Win, win, win.
Google doesn't plan on staying exclusively with TED for gadgets, and put out an open call to any company creating metering devices. We're sure they're getting flooded with options.