We were always told to turn off lights when we leave a room, turn down the AC and install Energy Star appliances.
All these efforts save money but do we really know how much? Up until now it has been difficult to assess the actual cost of turning things on and off. A growing movement in the energy efficiency industry claims that we can save hundreds of dollars per year if we know what things cost to run. Psychologically, when we walk by an appliance that we know it costs "x" per hour to run, we are more apt to turn it off if not in use.
Hit 99# To Turn On The Dishwasher!
With the coming significance of electric vehicles and overall rising cost of electricity, the Obama administration is handing out almost $4 billion in grants to modernize the electrical power grid (See Wikipedia) and introduce smart meters to homeowners and businesses.
Smart meters (see below for involvement of Google and Microsoft) which are integral to any smart-grid system - allow homeowners as well as utilities, to monitor power usage in real time, hoping to create more efficient system of electricity pricing. The process is called TODM ( Time Of Day Metering).Smart meters are digital and can relay to homeowners the cheapest time to use electricity.
Not far off will be text messaging from your electrical meter
Right now, most homeowners get charged a flat rate for power. Usually this is based in kilowatt hours (usage of 1000 watts for one hour) The idea is to modernize and incentivize usage in off peak hours. Prices charged by utilities will be by time of day. - Running your dishwasher or electric dryer at 10 PM on a summer day will save you a lot vs. running it during the afternoon when usage weighs down the grid.
A typical award looks like this for example: "Baltimore Gas and Electric will introduce smart meters to the utility's 1.1 million customers, along with electricity pricing that will vary by time of day, according to the demands on the grid".
Microsoft and Google are rolling out a software platform to help you analyze energy use in real time so you can be aware of the real costs.
It works like this. For households in areas where Google or Microsoft has a relationship with your utility, your wireless network in your home will be able to pick up signals from your net-enabled power meter when usage goes up or down. Thus you can tell the cost of specific behavior such as turning on your A/C.
Microsoft Hohm uses complicated algorithms to analyze information provided by consumers and participating utilities to help them better understand their power usage, get recommendations and save money.
Microsoft Hohm is available for free to all 120 million households in the United States, whether their utility is a partner or not. Microsoft is partnering with utilities and meter vendors to capture information about consumer power use in real time.
Google plans to rapidly expand PowerMeter in the next few months.