American homes are notorious energy wasters, and for a while now, pundits have been predicting massive growth in the home energy management sector. More and more people, it seems, are looking for ways to save energy and money, and more and more utility companies, interested in reducing demand, are looking to help them do it. Add to that big players like Google, Microsoft and General Electric lining up to supply the interface technology, and what you’ve got is a boom-in-the-making.
Most home energy management tools are being developed for use by utility companies deploying smart grid and smart metering technology. These tools offer utilities the opportunity to give customers a “hands-on” window into their home’s energy use, as well as, in some cases, an online dashboard for selecting and automating energy-saving programs–much like a programmable thermostat, but with more options and more control.
One place where people are getting accustomed to using Google’s home energy management tool, the Powermeter, is within the service area of California’s San Diego Gas and Electric (SDG&E). April Bolduc, Communications Manager for SDG&E, told us that 1 million of the company’s 1.4 million customers now have smart electric meters–and with them, access to home energy information via the Google PowerMeter. (The utility has also changed out 680,000 of its 850,000 gas meters for smart meters.)