Friday, August 5, 2011

Monitor Household Energy From Your Smartphone


A green app for your smartphone allows you to monitor household energy use in realtime.Knowledge is power. And if you have People Power 1.0, People Power’s new mobile Energy Services Platform, you can use knowledge to save power – and money. People Power 1.0 is an open and extensible cloud-based platform that allows you to monitor up-to-the-minute household energy usage from an iPhone or Android smartphone. The user interface dashboards can be configured to display energy usage in kilowatts per hour or in terms of the local currency. Energy use can be displayed by day, month or year, and energy usage between any two time points in the storage history can be compared. A budget feature also allows you to set targets against which to compare ongoing usage.
Data is transmitted from gateway devices provided by partners Blue Line and TED or People Power’s own GreenX Hub and GreenX Powerstrip devices. Blue Line’s PowerCost Monitor WiFi Gateway attaches to the power box and visually reads the dials. It works through your house router to connect to the Internet and send data to your smartphone. Or you can measure energy consumption from individual devices with People Power’s GreenX Powerstrips.
Because we’re addicted to Facebook and (maybe soon?) Google+, People Power 1.0 has a social network feature to help you save energy too. You can compare household or business energy use with others in your area – or country or world, if you like – and exchange energy-saving tips. An Energy Quiz tests the extent of your green knowledge and schools you at the same time. The quiz is also socialized. You can compete with friends (there’s a leaderboard) and post your quiz scores to Facebook.
People Power 1.0 is the company’s solution to a society that wants to go green but wants an easy way to do it. The platform is free and you can get the Blue Line Innovations PowerCost Monitor and WiFi Gateway bundle for about $150. It’s an overhead that’s justified only if you save as much money through decreased energy use. People Power is currently conducting a trial with the City of Palo Alto Utilities to see just how empowering their green technology is. At any rate, it’s certainly cheaper than retrofitting with the type of monitoring in a Panasonic Smart Town home.
Part of the growing Internet of Things, People Power 1.0 brings energy monitoring to the common household. Apparently, doing so is not as a straightforward as it might seem. Both Microsoft’s Hohm and Google’s PowerMeter systems have run out of juice. Microsoft cites slow adoption by the public. Seems we’re stubbornly sticking to simply making sure the lights are off before we go to bed. It’ll probably take trials like the one in Palo Alto and much talk of how much money the Smiths saved last month before people begin actively seeking out these types of energy saving technologies.
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