Not content with dominating the global search engine market, Google have taken the rather left field step of providing the UK with a free software tool that provides electricty consumers (i.e. almost everyone) with information on how much energy their home is using. Taking data from “utility smart meters and in-home energy management devices” Google will translate the info into charts and graphs which users can access via their very own iGoogle page. First Utility are the sole providers of fitted smart meters at the moment and they claim that 30,000 people have already signed up for their service. No word of cost yet but a self install smart meter from Alert Me will cost £69 plus a small monthly fee.
Google claim the new software will help householders manage their energy use, therefore encouraging less consumption (although presumably not of laptops, PCs and routers…….). They are not the first company to roll out this kind of software, and Microsoft are hot on their heels with their Holm project, currently in beta stage.
I think we’d all agree that anything that allows consumers to monitor their fuel use can only be a good thing and I’m sure the take up will be significant. Of course, the more people who sign up to use the software will do so via a Google account – if they haven’t already got one. I can’t help feeling this is more of a clever marketing ploy by Google to increase brand awareness by any means than a genuine attempt to provide a much needed service. It will be interesting to find out whether Google install a smart meter in each of their data centres.