Google is currently testing its new PowerMeter software, which will allow consumers to monitor their energy usage. PowerMeter, which is currently in the prototype phase, communicates with smart utility meters and other devices so that energy usage can be stored, analyzed and viewed. PowerMeter will be a free service and users will be able to view the data via iGoogle, which is a customizable Google page.
A smart meter, along with a utility company that is part of the pilot program, is required to use PowerMeter. Currently, about 40 million smart meters are installed throughout the world and that number is expected to more than double over the next few years. Part of President Obama's economic stimulus package also includes installing millions of smart meters throughout the United States over the next 3 years.
By viewing detailed energy usage data, consumers will be able to spot trends in their energy consumption and also see how cost effective various energy saving strategies are. The data will be stored securely, with access controlled by the consumer, and Google is also working with the government and other agencies to standardize the data that will be captured so that it will be in a non-proprietary extensible format. Google also plans to make an application programming interface (API) available for PowerMeter so that third-party vendors can develop software applications that can work with PowerMeter.