Google's PowerMeter energy-saving software, which made a splash when it was announced earlier this year, is finally making its way to consumers. Earlier this month, Google designated The Ted 5000, a $200 energy-monitoring contraption, as its first device partner. But the Ted 5000 is only available in North America, so Google's now partnering in the U.K. with AlertMe, a piece of hardware that plugs into a traditional power meter with a broadband connection to provide stats on energy use.
The AlertMe device is comparable in price to the Ted 5000—it costs $162 for the hardware plus a year of service—and the company claims that it pays for itself within a year. Google's PowerMeter software is free.
Before teaming up with Google, AlertMe provided data through a proprietary Web-based dashboard, but now the hardware will use an iGoogle portal to give you access to the data from any Internet-connected computer or cell phone. The partnership will also let AlertMe customers use Smart Plugs to remotely control appliances and monitor energy use.
If you don't want to shell out cash for AlertMe or Ted 5000, be patient. Google has partnerships with nine utilities in the U.S. and Europe, including Yello Strom, JEA, and San Diego Gas and Electric. Smart meter-equipped customers of these utilities have built-in access to PowerMeter—no installation required. And thanks to the tens of millions of smart meters soon to be rolled out in the U.S., we can rest assured that even more utility partners are in the works.