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Smart power choice,powered by Google

Does your air conditioner consume more power than your cooler? Do you use electricity if you leave you charger in its socket overnight?

Written by Mandakini Gahlot | New Delhi |
June 1, 2009 3:22:41 am

Does your air conditioner consume more power than your cooler? Do you use electricity if you leave you charger in its socket overnight?

Residents of Mumbai,Delhi and Orissa will soon find out all they wanted to know about the power consumption in their homes — tracking it online right down to the last unit.

The tool for this would be the PowerMeter — an online service that global web giant Google is planning to launch worldwide to help people make smart choices about energy consumption.

The company recently announced that it has entered into a partnership with eight power utilities across the world — Reliance Energy being one of them — to launch the PowerMeter.

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“Google PowerMeter can show people their electricity consumption on their home computer,” said a Google spokesperson. “The software relies on smart meters as a data source. Over the past few months,we have been looking to partner with utilities that are installing this equipment in their customers’ homes. Our initial partners include utilities with millions of customers as well as smaller ones.”

In India,Reliance is already working on the smart meters. And a partnership with Reliance will allow Google access consumption details of approximately 6.2 million users once smart meters become popular.

While officials at Reliance Energy are tightlipped about the deal,a spokesperson said: “We are working on the details of the pilot project. There are many technical aspects that need to be ironed out. We should be making a formal announcement in a few days.”

For now,Reliance Energy has 6.2 million consumers in India,with only a handful using smart meters on a test basis. The gadget is still being tested in labs for improvements,said a company official in New Delhi. “We have also told Google that by next month,we will have a feasibility report on how long this technology will take to reach the consumer,but we are hoping its sooner than later,’ an official said.

Discom BSES,which is the Reliance-backed discom in Delhi,has already conducted extensive laboratory tests for smart meters.

THE CONCEPT

The idea had emerged after a study conducted by the Environmental Change Institute at the University of Oxford revealed that access to details of household energy consumption is likely to save consumers anywhere between 5 to 15 per cent on their monthly power bills. Another study by the US Environmental Protection Agency stipulated that for every six households that save 10 per cent on electricity,we reduce carbon emission equal to taking one conventional car off the road.

The idea is to make the tiniest detail about energy consumption available directly,so one can make energy efficient choices and keep power bills low.

According to Google PowerMeter’s website,consumers can “even strike up a little friendly competition to see how your energy consumption compares to your friends and neighbours.” Clicking the ‘share’ icon will help consumers share their consumption details.

HOW THE SYSTEM WORKS

Once a person registers with Google PowerMeter — which will be a free service — Google will have access to her consumption data through the smart meter that Reliance will install at her home. Wireless transmission of the data will take place from the smart meter to Google. And thereafter,one will be able to monitor consumption online. There will even be a graph indicating at what time of the day the energy usage is the highest.

By switching on each household gadget,one can also track online how much power it is using. This,in turn,will help decide if it is time to replace an gadget or appliance.

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