Google is testing a prototype product that they've dubbed the PowerMeter, which is designed to convey electricity use information to electricity users. PowerMeter is premised on the famous phrase by Lord Kelvin: "If you cannot measure it, you cannot improve it." Accordingly, the PowerMeter takes energy consumption information from your smart meter and gives it to you in real time using the iGoogle gadget. It's a dead simple concept — certainly the most low hanging of low hanging fruit. An absolute no-brainer that's important and more crucial than ever.
I said this previously when talking about a similar gadget, but real-time knowledge of electricity use is empowering. It's like a nutrition label smack dab on top of a Big Mac. An environmental impact label on the window of your house. A Surgeon General's warning printed on your cigarette. Ignore the information at your own peril, or pocketbook.
People may not precisely know how this or that activity uses electricity, so they guess, or worse, they don't even think about it. But give them something like a PowerMeter, and they'll absolutely know. Imagine, for instance, if you have kids that won't turn off the lights when they leave a room. Show them how the PowerMeter works and maybe it'll become a game to cut energy use to the lowest level possible. That's how it's supposed to work.
Unlike other technology currently on the market, such as the PowerCost Monitor or TED, Google's PowerMeter will be free upon graduation from prototype status. Google plans to work with utilities to rollout the gadget to energy users already outfitted with smart meters.