Funds from the economic stimulus package have called attention to the importance of monitoring energy efficiency in the home. In 2009, a number of companies launched new wireless energy dashboards that take away some of the mystery in how our energy usage and statements are assessed. The “fully digital home” has been on the horizon for years, with automated lighting, talking computers and computerized refrigerators, but the need for better technology, eco-friendly choices and energy efficient homes is finally driving the revolution forward. If an all-new home isn’t on your horizon, then you’ll be happy to know there are affordable hardware solutions.
One of the meter options is EnergyHub, which “produces smart, simple, and cost-effective energy management tools that strengthen the relationship between consumers and utilities and help solve the energy problems of today and tomorrow.” Time Magazine recently called this energy monitor dashboard “one of the best inventions of 2009” for its ability to rein in real power-hogs. “In a car you can usually see how much gas you’re using,” wrote senior writer Lev Grossman. “With electricity in a home, you never could before. But now… in real time you can, using EnergyHub, and I think it’s going to save America billions and billions of dollars.”
The cool thing about the EnergyHub monitor is that consumers will be able to receive information on how much energy each appliance or electronic uses. They’ll see how much they can save if they upgrade their air conditioning unit or refrigerator. They’ll learn how much savings they can see by turning the thermostat down a few degrees in the winter. They’ll see what they waste on “vampire power,” when their unused devices are still plugged in. They’ll also be able to see how their energy efficiency compares to the neighbors’, notice when the whole neighborhood is in danger of a blackout, and be able to communicate directly with the utility company.
Additionally, “Google PowerMeter is a free software tool that allows you to view your home’s energy consumption from your personalized iGoogle homepage.” The idea is that consumers will improve their energy efficiency by looking at data from their utility smart meters or energy efficient home devices. Consumers can compare their energy usage to others and to their past records. Rumor has it they’re working with device markers like Tendril and GE to launch a direct-to-consumer product in the coming year.