As much as 10 percent of your electricity bill is simply being sucked away for no useful purpose. Blame standby, or vampire, power.
Belkin this month released perhaps the simplest way to cut that standby power with its Conserve Power Switch. The small gadget is just a switch in a handy format that cuts the flow of power to anything that plugs into it.
There's not much to this device, but that's its appeal. The Power Switch, which costs $6.99, plugs into a regular outlet and you plug a device into that. When you want to use … Read more
In the wake of Google's decision to retire its PowerMeter application, industry insiders showed little surprise. But the episode illustrates how the bar has been raised in the nascent home energy management area.
Google on Friday said that it decided to retire PowerMeter, a Web application that displays how much electricity a home is using. Company executives had hopes of expanding the product into a broad set of features, but customer uptake was not as strong as hoped, Google said in a company blog.
"[PowerMeter] really suffered from a fundamental flaw in its operating assumption that people are interested in monitoring their energy usage at a 15-minute level of granularity, or in real time. They are not. People lead extremely busy lives and studying a line chart showing their hourly energy consumption is simply not going to make anyone's priority list," said Ogi Kavazovic, the vice president of marketing and strategy at Opower, a home energy efficiency company.
Dozens of companies have built applications or gadgets called in-home dashboards that show detailed electricity usage with the idea that more information will provide clues on how to conserve energy. For example, showing people that a pool pump is a big energy consumer could lead them to run it on a schedule rather than all the time.
What's more challenging, though, is motivating consumers to stick with energy-saving efforts, according to energy efficiency professionals. To reach a large number of users, information should be presented in a variety of channels--whether it's a Web portal, handheld device, e-mail, or paper--and focus on consumer behavior as much as the technology, they said.
Opower, now a well-recognized company in the field, made its mark with paper reports that show customers how efficient one home is compared to people in similar homes and communities. It focuses on simple presentation of information online and offline and the social psychology around efficiency. For example, its reports have a smiley face to indicate how well people are doing compared to peers on efficiency. … Read more
Google is pulling the plug on its PowerMeter electricity-monitoring tool due to poor uptake, a sign of how tough it is to make money in home energy software.
In a company blog today, Google said that PowerMeter and Google Health Web applications were trailblazers as products, but just didn't catch on as hoped.
"We're pleased that PowerMeter has helped demonstrate the importance of this access and created something of a model. However, our efforts have not scaled as quickly as we would like, so we are retiring the service," wrote Bill Weihl, Google Green Energy czar. The service will be suspended September 16, giving people time to export their data.
Google launched PowerMeter two years ago through its philanthropic arm as a Web application that can collect information from smart meters to show consumers detailed information on electricity use. With more detail, people can take steps to cut down on power.
As recently as April of this year, Weihl said in an interview that Google planned to keep developing and offering the product even though home electricity is a "complicated ecosystem." Google's former director of climate change initiatives, Dan Reicher, last year said that Google planned to add features, such as water and natural gas monitoring, as well as allowing consumers to tie into peak-power-shaving programs.
Google offered PowerMeter through utility partnerships and had made deals with electricity monitor device makers so that they could view real-time usage data from PowerMeter on a PC or smartphone.
But cracking beyond the group of energy-conscious consumers has proved elusive--and Google is not alone in that regard.
Microsoft earlier this year told CNET that it plans to refocus its Hohm residential energy management application onto electric-vehicle charging through a partnership with Ford. Hohm was similar to PowerMeter but provided specific recommendations on how to make a home more energy efficient.
At the same time, there are dozens of other companies, including many start-ups, hoping to build energy management systems to improve home energy control and efficiency. … Read more
Three years after launching Google Health, the company has decided to pull the plug on the ailing personal health records service. The lights are also going out for the Google PowerMeter service, which monitors Web-based home energy use.
The Google Health service will expire on January 1, 2012, but users will have until January 1, 2013, to transfer their data out of the system before it gets deleted entirely.
"Now, with a few years of experience, we've observed that Google Health is not having the broad impact that we hoped it would," Google said in a blog post today. &… Read more
The PowerCost Monitor, one of the few energy-tracking gadgets sold directly to consumers, will now be available at Lowe's hardware stores.
The monitor's maker, BlueLine Innovations, said today that the PowerCost Monitor and WiFi Gateway will be available at 319 Lowe's stores in California, Washington, Florida, Massachusetts, New York, and Maryland. The product has been available for sale online but this is its first big-box retail distributor.
There are dozens of companies making electricity monitors, with many being trialed through utilities' smart-grid programs geared at reducing energy use during peak time or reducing customers' overall power consumption. … Read more
LAGUNA NIGUEL, Calif.--Disappointed with the uptake of its Hohm Web application for home energy efficiency, Microsoft is shifting the product focus to emphasize electric-vehicle charging, according to a company executive.
Microsoft launched Hohm almost two years ago as a free application for consumers to monitor energy use and get tips on how to improve efficiency. It has signed on fewer than 10 utilities which use Hohm to provide consumers with electricity data online and it has partnered to provide electricity monitoring using a home's Wi-Fi connection.
But despite those efforts, the reception from utilities and consumers has not … Read more
Google's PowerMeter Web application can now track home electricity from a PC or smartphone using Wi-Fi and a home's broadband connection.
Blue Line Innovations is expected to announce a deal tomorrow to tie its PowerCost Monitor to Google's PowerMeter for monitoring home energy. Combined with a WiFi Gateway sold by Blue Line Innovations, a person can get real-time and historical information on electricity use. PowerMeter also lets people create a home energy budget, share efficiency tips, and predict costs.
Getting more information on energy use is meant to help people find ways to conserve. For example, a … Read more
Google.org has tacked on energy-efficiency recommendations to PowerMeter, one of many features planned for its home energy Web application.
The latest feature, accessible from the Take Action button, gives people a way to organize tasks for making a home more efficient. The recommendations are generated based on the type and size of a house as well as some basic electricity usage information.
As people take more steps to reduce energy use, the application generates new recommendations, said Google PowerMeter product manager Ryan Falor in a company blog.
PowerMeter graphs out real-time and historical electricity usage information of a person'… Read more
WASHINGTON--Google's PowerMeter is a straightforward application for monitoring home electricity at this point, but the company expects to stretch its features toward managing an array of energy loads in the home, according to an executive.
PowerMeter gets data from smart meters or home electricity monitors and displays that data on a PC or smartphone, which helps people better understand electricity usage and leads to clues on how to cut bills. But "we're just getting going" with PowerMeter, said Dan Reicher, director of climate change initiatives at Google, here at the Kema Utility of the Future conference … Read more
The smart grid for Plumas-Sierra County, Calif., is now operating via the television broadcasting system's "white space," software and service supplier Spectrum Bridge announced Wednesday.
The TV white space spectrum is the portion of unused broadcast TV channels that became available with the national switch from analog to digital TV broadcasting.
The space is prized because it can provide a venue for data exchange rates significantly faster than the current standard Internet Wi-Fi, and can be broadcast for extended distances and through obstacles, making it ideal for use in smart grid communications.