Google's PowerMeter Lets You Know If the Lights Are on

From PC World: Google is testing software that will let consumers get detailed information on how much electricity they're using, which could help households reduce consumption by as much as 15 percent, the company said Monday.

The software, Google PowerMeter, integrates into the company's iGoogle platform, where users create a customized page with lightweight Web-based applications. The PowerMeter is designed to show a granular, real-time view of electricity-consuming devices.

Although just a prototype now, consumers will eventually be able to opt in to use it, and no personal information will be shared between Google and utilities, the company said. The electricity data will be stored securely, and users will be able to tell their utility to stop sending data to the PowerMeter, Google said.

Most consumers don't have much data or context regarding their electricity consumption, according to Ed Lu of Google's engineering team.

Google's PowerMeter takes data from so-called "smart meters," or advanced electricity meters and other electricity management devices. About 40 million smart meters are in use worldwide, with that number expected to rise to 100 million in the next few years, Lu said.

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