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Its been months or years since I was last as hopeful about Global Warming as I was yesterday and today.  

Yesterday, a new invention (that no one I know personally had anything to with) was announced.  I'm going to go out on a limb and predict that by the end of next year, it will reduce American CO2 emissions more than every single wind turbine and solar panel installed until then.  

This diary is not snark and I am not drunk.

Update:Um, Rec list??  Thanks for the pleasant surprise!  But please see note near end of diary for my shameless exploitation.

Let's start at the beginning.  Geothermal, wind, and solar energy together provide less than 1 percent of US electricity.  So a new technology that reduced US emissions by 1% would have a greater impact than every solar panel and wind turbine ever produced-- put together.  Unfortunately, its not very easy to reduce US emissions by that much.

There is one approach that is cheaper and more effective than any renewable power-- energy conservation.  Renewables cost money, conservation saves money.

And we are incredibly wasteful.  Western Europeans use barely half as much electricity as we do.  So it is possible to reduce our electricity use quite significantly without making significant sacrifices.

In fact, I wrote a diary on this a few years ago, Negawatts! How I slashed my electricity use which described my family's successful conservation efforts:

My monthly household electricity use (in kW-hours), as measured by my utility, for the periods before (maroon) and after (green) we started conserving.  Also shown are US and Japanese average household usage from 2001 (most recent data available).

Ultimately, my family cut our usage by about 60%.  We saved hundreds of dollars per year.

One of the lessons I learned is that if you want to conserve energy, rapid feedback is very helpful.

Everyone who has ever driven a car with a fuel consumption monitor (like a Prius) knows this.  If you are given rapid feedback and enough information, you can rapidly change your personal style.  So, in a sense, its all about providing you with information fast and in a format that's easy for you to understand and explore.

Enter Google.

That's what they do: provide people with information in a format that's fast and easy to understand and explore.  (And, just to get this out of the way, neither I nor any family member has any affiliation with Google.)

Today they announced a new system called PowerMeter.  Actually, its still partly on the drawing board.  But the outline is clear.

1)  Some third party will sell you a device that measures your whole-house (or whole-apartment) power use at the source, essentially instantaneously.  (My personal speculation is that this device will cost between $20 and $100.)

2)  The device will transmit data to Google servers, which will then show you a picture on a web page (that only you can access) that looks like this:

That will give you a picture very quickly of how you use the electricity in your house.  So you will really learn that those incandescent bulbs cost you a lot more than CFLs would.  And you will learn that replacing your 15 year-old fridge with a new one will pay back pretty quickly.  And you will learn that you really, really ought to turn your outside lights off every night.  And you will learn what an energy-hog your dryer is.

When I got serious about conserving energy, I found good data was essential, and helped me reduce energy.

I'm not alone.  Here's what one Google Engineer found:

The US average is around 20 kwh/day.  So that Googler was an electricity hog to begin with, using nearly 3 times the US average.  But he reduced his energy use to only a little above average.  So basically, he reduced his carbon emissions as much as if he had spent tens of thousands of dollars installing solar panels on his roof.

And, assuming he pays the average US electricity rate, he will save over a thousand dollars per year.  That might not mean much to a Googler, but it will to most of us, and stories like this will spread.

So I expect that as people use this, they will drastically reduce their electricity use-- while saving money.  

And people will have fun doing this.  There will be competitions-- can I reduce my power usage more than my neighbors?  More than my Facebook friends?  Can the East half of campus use less than the West?  Can Boston conserve more than Philadelphia?

Its true the initial device will cost money-- but I strongly suspect this will be at least partly subsidized by government (which is spending tens of billions on a "Smart grid") or by utilities (which may find it cheaper than building new power plants).

Or by Google.  Which will be collecting and storing information on how much power you use and when, and has a long history of figuring out how to monetize information in ways that make everyone happier.

And if 15% of America cuts its energy use by 15% (and I think both figures are very conservative), then this invention will have a larger impact on our emissions than all solar panels and wind turbines put together.  And I didn't even include commercial use.

It gets better.  Building the Electranet
But all of the above is just beginning.  Google has announced that third parties will be able to use this data to build applications.

So someone is going to sell small businesses software to analyze and reduce their electricity usage, and someone else will publish software that looks at traces like the one shown above and automatically a) analyzes the curves to guess what is using electricity by the shape of the curve and b) proposes what can be done about it.  And someone else will build software to organize all those Fantasy Electricity Conservation Leagues.  And someone else will make an iPhone App that can call you if your usage exceeds some threshold after 11 PM (did you inadvertently leave your outside lights on?)

And that's before all the crazy stuff.  Once people get the hang of using the electranet, we'll have dishwashers and washing machines programmed to turn on when the price of power dips because a front went through and spun up the local wind turbines, and a host of similar applications.

Never mind all those tens of billions we're spending on the Smart Grid.  This is beginning-- at least the user interface-- for Al Gore's Electranet.  Update:  It occurs to me that Al Gore is a senior advisor for Google. I recognize the lion by his paw.

The hardware to actually measure your electricity use doesn't exist yet, although similar hardware does and Google is apparently talking to hardware manufacturers.  I'll bet we'll be able to buy the hardware in another six months, at most.

Perhaps I am dreaming, but I don't think so.  There are days I think that we really can solve our problems, and this is one of them.

And-- although the eight people who comment on this diary will probably agree I am drunk-- I fully intend to cite this diary in a year or two and say "I told you so." :)

Originally posted to chapter1 on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 05:51 AM PST.

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    •  I think they mentioned this (22+ / 0-)

      in Nudge. It's an EXCELLENT way to make people aware, and once people are aware it's amazing what they will do.

      Feedback is the key. It's one thing to say 'you can save xx by doing yy' and another to see IMMEDIATELY how much the difference really is.

    •  NegaWatt (36+ / 0-)

      Google it, do it.

      Anywhere but the USA this is the first step of what we call "Reduce, reuse, recycle", always follow that order and you can't go wrong.

      In almost any post I make about power consumption or global warming I suggest this as the first step.

      Listen to your Mom. Turn off the lights when you leave the room.

      Turn down the heater and put on a sweater.

      Call the power company to audit your home and then make the improvements they suggest, the payback is very quick.

      Some things are too simple and obvious, I suppose.

      It can't be repeated too often, T+R.

      Ask me about my daughter's future - Ko

      by koNko on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 06:44:48 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  This is ironic (12+ / 0-)

      Because we've actually raised our electricity consumption recently using space heaters in order to reduce our oil consumption, with the overriding goal of reducing our overall consumption.  It's saved us money so far, but I read this diary and now I feel bad :)

      The all purpose reference for every Obama surrogate and supporter

      by ShadowSD on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 06:53:17 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Heating small spaces (19+ / 0-)

        such as bedrooms while leaving the thermostat down in the house can save total energy.

        "It's the planet, stupid."

        by FishOutofWater on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 07:07:31 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  yup my t-stat is set to 50 at night and 63 (5+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          gpclay, highacidity, ladybug53, ShadowSD, BYw

          during the day and the space heater in the bathroom only gets turned on a half hour before the SO gets up.

          Of course I am heating a garage with racked computers so everything is relative...

          The biggest threat to America is not communism, it's moving America toward a fascist theocracy... -- Frank Zappa

          by NCrefugee on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 09:14:02 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  Even better, heat your mattress (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          cosette, ladybug53

          You can buy an electric mattress pad, a bit like an electric blanket except the heat is trapped better under your blankets---and frankly it's a lot more soothing to climb into a warm bed than under a warm, sketchy looking blanket.

          Ever since we put one on, we've never noticed the low thermostat at night, or even bothered with a space heater in the room.  Plus, you can get one with dual controls so if you go to bed at different times you can turn off your half after climbing into bed.

      •  If you are saving $$ (10+ / 0-)

        you are saving energy. Don't feel guilty.

        Americans, while occasionally willing to be serfs, have always been obstinate about being peasantry. F. Scott Fitzgerald, the Great Gatsby

        by riverlover on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 07:10:52 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  ceramic space heaters are da bomb. (6+ / 0-)

        seriously, some of them are pretty efficient.

        Jesus ain't comin', go ahead and put the Nukes back now.

        by RisingTide on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 08:17:02 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Conversely, so are CFLs (6+ / 0-)

          Incandescent light bulbs can be thought of as efficient producers of heat that also waste energy by producing light.

          [Remember the power source for the Easy Bake Oven?]

          •  that's why I've wondered why ceramic heaters (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            gpclay, MD patriot, Samer

            are more efficient than other space heaters ... isn't any purely resistive load pretty efficient at turning juice into heat?

            •  any electric heater is 100% efficient (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              raines, HiBob, NRG Guy

              Now some of them might warm your body better if the heat is directed towards you, but that is quite a joke to talk about a "100% efficient" electric heater- that's the only kind we use, except for the light bulbs that might let a little stray energy out the window as light energy!

              Conservation of energy law means that energy in = energy out.

          •  My bills haven't changed (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            So you will really learn that those incandescent bulbs cost you a lot more than CFLs would.

            I replaced all my incandescents long ago but I have never seen a difference on my bill.

            •  I saw a big difference w/CFLs. (7+ / 0-)

              My home is a giant energy suck. We need more insulation, a new front door, and a new roof. When mr.u got fired in '07 it consumed a lot of our savings, so we are doing what we can in small bits.

              My electric bill is big, mostly because of mom's oxygen concentrater. The utility charges a different rate the more energy you use. They treat us as if we have an air conditioner, never mind it's a life sustaining device.

              I knew I had to do something to reduce my electric use and because I've lived here for a long time I could make a single change, like CFLs and see the result. It dropped my usage by quite a bit. (It was last year, I don't remember the actual wattage).

              I added two space heaters last winter and the savings from the CFLs paid for the heaters. I then realized the savings in my nat. gas usage. Also I began placing lights where they are most needed, not using light for the entire room. More savings.

              When we do the roof I hope to be able to afford a solar tube or two in the darker areas of my home.

              Notice to dead enders and Daleks. "It's over now so drink your big black cow and get out of here." Steely Dan

              by high uintas on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 11:04:06 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  just remember that you don't have to heat or cool (4+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                gpclay, high uintas, ladybug53, StrayCat

                every room. it's quite pleasant to go into the 60 degree room occasionally, so long as you have a safehaven at a more comfortable temperature. The rooms where you spend most of your time sitting are the ones that need to be kept the warmest. (not sleeping. for that we have blankets. and cats)

                Jesus ain't comin', go ahead and put the Nukes back now.

                by RisingTide on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 11:10:02 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  i do this, but i do have to be careful. when (0+ / 0-)

                  i left one area too cold, it got mold, and now i don't know if the mold is in the walls, too.

                  •  it is generally a good idea for your health (0+ / 0-)

                    to invest in proper dehumidification and humidification (buy a good few hygrometers so that you'll know the humidity. keep it within 40-50%). There are also sprays that you can use that will "lock in" mold and prevent more mold formation (basically a thin plastic coating).

                    Jesus ain't comin', go ahead and put the Nukes back now.

                    by RisingTide on Thu Feb 12, 2009 at 06:26:49 AM PST

                    [ Parent ]

              •  Put all of your devices on power strips (3+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                cosette, ladybug53, txcatlin

                Then only turn on the strip when in use.  Yes, that means that the clocks won't work on the Microwave, DVD player, or TV.  Big deal.  Buy a wall clock that runs on AA batteries.  Mine goes years before I replace it.  Obviously leave your Tivo plugged in all the time.  

                Wall warts (power modules for things like cordless phones, etc.) should always be unplugged, or in a powerstrip that's off.  They constantly use power, which you can tell their warm touch.  

                Buy a powerless corded phone and use it most of the time (the phone company provides "free" electricity in the phone line, assuming you have a landline).  Cordless phones constantly broadcast, using electricity.  Leave them off unless you're going to use it (they also might cause brain cancer, so limit use).  

                Hang your laundry, especially towels and things.  Alternatively, dry them for 10m then hang them.  That will reduce wrinkles and give things a head start, esp useful for jeans which take a long time to dry and can mildew.

                Oh, and buy a kill-a-watt.  Use it to find out what devices use the most electricity.

                On the front lines of the energy crisis.
                Peak Oil Hawaii

                by Arclite on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 01:16:22 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

              •  $6 billion for weatherization in the stimulus (0+ / 0-)

                might have a few bucks for you

            •  umm... how long do you have your big things on (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              gpclay, high uintas

              per day?
              I'm talking 500W+ devices....

              Jesus ain't comin', go ahead and put the Nukes back now.

              by RisingTide on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 11:08:21 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  What about the water heater??? nfc (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                high uintas

                I am here to represent the democratic wing of the Democratic Party.

                by Josiah Bartlett on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 11:53:31 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  eep. again, i dont' got one of those. (3+ / 0-)

                  hides under the table and licks paw

                  Jesus ain't comin', go ahead and put the Nukes back now.

                  by RisingTide on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 11:58:45 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                •  And the TV or 19" monitor... (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Josiah Bartlett

                  flat screens have allowed us to go to much bigger monitors, which sucks more energy.

                  No on Prop 8::Sometimes I get to hitch a ride on the Democratic Bus--they let me stand on the back bumper.

                  by steve04 on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 12:39:57 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  A 20" flat screen still uses less power (2+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    Lefty Mama, Josiah Bartlett

                    than a 17" CRT, and produces less waste heat, especally if you keep the brightness setting down.

                    Those who do not study history should not be permitted to make it.

                    by trumpeter on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 12:59:49 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                  •  LCDs use much less power than the old boxy montrs (2+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    MD patriot, Josiah Bartlett

                    If it's time to buy a new TV or computer monitor, pick up an LCD.  The can use up to 2/3 less for a comparable size.

                    On the front lines of the energy crisis.
                    Peak Oil Hawaii

                    by Arclite on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 01:18:25 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  I'm not talking 17"ers... (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:

                      The widespread adoption of 4 and 5 foot mega flat screens, whether LCD or plasma, has increased energy use.  People used to be satisfied with a 2' TV, now they want a 5' TV, or a whole set of TVs so they can watch multiple games at once.

                      No on Prop 8::Sometimes I get to hitch a ride on the Democratic Bus--they let me stand on the back bumper.

                      by steve04 on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 01:21:22 PM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  You get a much bigger LCD TV for the same electri (1+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        Josiah Bartlett

                        A 25 inch CRT (boxy) TV uses 300 watts.  A 42 inch LCD uses 200-300 watts.  

                        On the front lines of the energy crisis.
                        Peak Oil Hawaii

                        by Arclite on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 02:44:45 PM PST

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  What about plasma? (0+ / 0-)

                          This chart at Cnet, which is fairly large but certainly not comprehensive and possibly not representative, shows plasma maxing out at 0.62 watts/square inch, LCD maxing out at 0.36 watts/square inch, and rear projection maxing out at 0.17 watts/square inch.


                          Or here's a paper from Agilent on their power measurement equipment, which says LCDs use ~2/3 what CRTs do, per square inch, but plasmas are roughly double LCDs.  


                          My original point still stands about size; a 65" diagonal LCD or plasma is larger than CRTs can be built, and many families have gotten much bigger screens as a result.

                          No on Prop 8::Sometimes I get to hitch a ride on the Democratic Bus--they let me stand on the back bumper.

                          by steve04 on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 04:48:30 PM PST

                          [ Parent ]

                •  Go for on-demand. (6+ / 0-)

                  It's not the spikes that are deadly, it's the constant heating of water that is kept hot and ready for you... when you're away for hours and hours, or asleep for hours and hours. And gone for a weekend...

                  Huge spikes in this case are more efficient; you heat what you need, when you need it and for as long as you need it and then you're done--and so is it.

                  We replaced the gas water heater with a gas on-demand water heater, and presto, the gas bill fell dramatically.  Of course, that sucker uses more gas than the (high efficiency!) furnace, when it's heating water... but only for short periods of time.

                  Same's true if it's electric heat.

                  The logic is akin to only cooking the food you're going to eat... instead of having someone cook food for you all the time, throwing away some of it every hour (or so), when no one's eaten it.

                  Alternatively... solar is a superb way of heating water that you're going to store; at least that heat energy is free....

                  [When] the land... has become private property, the landlords... love to reap where they never sowed, and demand rent even for its natural produce. ~Adam Smith

                  by ogre on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 12:56:11 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  I had on-demand gas water heaters in Japan (2+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    mataliandy, Leap Year

                    one in the kitchen and one in the shower/bath room (which was separate from toilet - another good Japanese idea.) It always provided hot water quickly, on demand.  

                    I always assumed electric heating would be too slow for on-demand, because with gas the water passes through the flame.  Is that not the case?

                    •  Nope. (0+ / 0-)

                      It's not that hard--and in both cases, it's just a question of delivering enough energy to a smallish area to heat the water passing through. (Technically, the water doesn't pass through the flame, the pipe holding it does.

                      For gas, it means a big burner devouring gas... to heat what's being used.  

                      For electric, it means 220V line(s) to the heater.  Enough juice, and you can heat it. I actually have an electric unit which isn't installed right now (long story there).

                      [When] the land... has become private property, the landlords... love to reap where they never sowed, and demand rent even for its natural produce. ~Adam Smith

                      by ogre on Thu Feb 12, 2009 at 02:41:02 PM PST

                      [ Parent ]

              •  How long? (3+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                raines, ladybug53, RisingTide

                Space heaters as needed, the one in the bedroom is on only about 3 hrs to warm it up for bed, our bedroom gets no direct heat. The one in the living room is on only in the evening or if the temp is 20 or below. I never use them above 750W.

                Mom's concentrater puts out heat, so it does help in the winter, and I can move it across the hall and close it off in the summer.

                But, when you have an elderly person in your home you have different needs. Mom needs brighter light to read, she is in the room that gets the most direct sun and I use a CFL the is the equivalent of 100W but uses 23W IIRC. She also needs to be warmer than we do.

                We heat with natural gas and our water heater is gas also. In our area gas is the norm. Also, we are dry, so swamp coolers in the summer do the trick. I line dry clothes.

                Notice to dead enders and Daleks. "It's over now so drink your big black cow and get out of here." Steely Dan

                by high uintas on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 12:18:22 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  two words (3+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  ogre, MD patriot, high uintas

                  Electric Blankets.

                  Heat the bed, not the room.

                  •  Good advice. (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    high uintas

                    We've kept our bedroom cold, and when it's darned cold... the solutions that are popular here are to microwave one of those neck pillows full of... something... that hold a fair amount of heat--and toss that into the bed before someone goes to bed.  It puts heat into the air in the bed's blankets... and is something warm to curl up with and feel comfortable while the bed warms.

                    Oh, and body heat from another person.  Curling up with someone else does a lot of the above, too.

                    [When] the land... has become private property, the landlords... love to reap where they never sowed, and demand rent even for its natural produce. ~Adam Smith

                    by ogre on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 12:59:52 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  i strongly recommend polartec. (2+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      mataliandy, high uintas

                      prrr... and more kitties on the bed!
                      (seriously, i break a sweat with two or three polartec blankets on. in a 50 degree house!)

                      Jesus ain't comin', go ahead and put the Nukes back now.

                      by RisingTide on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 01:23:04 PM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  Duvet (3+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        high uintas, Leap Year, RisingTide

                        I've slept in beds with just a down-filled duvet.  Perfectly comfortable.  You just--with whatever you're using--have to capture and hold most of the heat from the body and presto. Warm.

                        Or sleep with the dogs.

                        [When] the land... has become private property, the landlords... love to reap where they never sowed, and demand rent even for its natural produce. ~Adam Smith

                        by ogre on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 01:50:43 PM PST

                        [ Parent ]

                    •  Since electricity is not an option for us (0+ / 0-)

                      We use multiple blankets of different weights and flannel sheets over a lambswool mattress pad.

                      On really cold nights (like if we were gone for a week, and it's been below zero every night, and the woodstove only warms the house up to a balmy 30 degrees before we need to sleep), we warm a cast iron frying pan on the woodstove, then rub it around on the sleeping areas of the bed (especially the feet) between the top & bottom sheet.

                      In real life, a TARP is a cover-up.

                      by mataliandy on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 10:24:48 PM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                  •  The cats love those, too! nt (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    high uintas

                    Those who do not study history should not be permitted to make it.

                    by trumpeter on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 01:02:46 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                  •  I recommend against electric blankets (2+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    high uintas, ladybug53

                    They put out a large electromagnetic field, and have been shown to possibly increase breast cancer incidence in one study.  They haven't been studied much, so the risks are largely unknown.

                    I suggest filling some socks with rice, tying off the tops, and microwaving them for a couple of minutes each.  They get nice and toasty.  Throw them in the bed for a few minutes before you jump in.  Use heavy blankets to reduce the gap between the sheet and your body.

                    On the front lines of the energy crisis.
                    Peak Oil Hawaii

                    by Arclite on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 01:32:16 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

          •  incandescent light bulbs are best used in (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            gpclay, high uintas, ladybug53

            bathrooms,a nd other places you won't have the light on for terribly long.
            CFLs are more efficient, but not in the short term.

            Jesus ain't comin', go ahead and put the Nukes back now.

            by RisingTide on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 11:07:23 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  But LEDs are even better! (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            eflat, Samer

            Plus they are much more benign to the environment, use less energy, are cheaper to manufacture and last about 100,000 hrs!
            Incandescent make a better heater than a light source.

            Geese are but Geese tho' we may think 'em Swans; and Truth will be Truth tho' it sometimes prove mortifying and distasteful. Benjamin Franklin

            by winchelenator on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 02:02:51 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

        •  3413 BTU/kWH (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          raines, MD patriot, Arclite, NRG Guy

          Resistant electric heat is all the same... you get 3413 BTUs/kWh. The "super efficient" advertising is sales rhetoric. ALL resistance electric heaters put out the same amount of heat/kWh. You fell for it.

        •  we just got one for the bedroom (0+ / 0-)

          and it is our sole source of heat, pennies a day in electricity, timer runs it just at the times we use the room

          of course, it helps to live in a mild climate and have super insulation

      •  also, isn't it nice when you only have one warm (4+ / 0-)

        room in the house?
        My entire house was at 62 degrees yesterday. not cold a bit!

        Jesus ain't comin', go ahead and put the Nukes back now.

        by RisingTide on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 08:17:38 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Hardly need Google (21+ / 0-)

      A Rogowski coil on the mains into the house, or a LED+photosensor watching the rotating disk in the power meter and reporting when the white blob goes by, gives you the current being drawn without actually connecting to the power mains. Either should be low cost, and either can even be DIY if you've any degree of technical knowledge.

      An app on your computer can record and display, without an Internet connection - important if you use dialup which saves a lot of power over DSL or cable modem - and without letting Google or someone else get their fingers into your power usage data.

      •  I was thinking along the same lines (4+ / 0-)

        a coil measuring current into the house would suffice...although hooking it up to a computer is more than this 2nd year physics major knows how to do...

        •  Engineeering such a device is no problem (10+ / 0-)

          I have done this many many times in the past on smaller scales.  Measuring current or power consumption at point-of-use is a common practice to deterine a number of things.  Connectivity to a computer (or better yet a stand-alone embedded solution) would take no more than bluetooth or low level RF.  Simple.  

          I could build a single station device in less than an hour.

          This is NOT major technology.  It is simply good application of the technology we already have.

          If more people thought of using our current technologies more practical than these technologies are used today then we would have something.

          Like a PC.  A desktop consumes about 20 times the power of a laptop.  But both seem to be about the same nowadays with flatscreen monitors.  It is just that with a laptop, battery life has to be dealt with as opposed to the unlimited power from the grid used by desktops.  So the laptop uses more efficient components.  So why does not the desktop?  Price, plain and simple.  But if you buy a laptop instead of a desktop the savings would pay the difference between the two machines in no time.

          This is more efficient use of current technology.  We can already do a lot of things with what we already have.  Us embedded-controls engineers do it every day.

          Now if Obama and Congress can get some stimulus out to those of us who are now disabled and can work part-time but not full time without jeopardizing Medicare or Social Security....


          Howlin' at the World from the Left Side of the Planet

          by WolfmanSpike on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 09:27:56 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  So build it already! :) (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            gpclay, walkshills, ladybug53

            Seriously.  See my comment a bit down about how they need device makers to build this sort of thing.

            But-- recognizing you probably know a lot more than me about the relevant hardware issues-- I'd raise the following cautions.


             -Either 1) Must be installable by an idiot in a rainstorm without electrocution risk, or 2) add cost of installation to cost estimate

              -Power consumption.  I don't know how much bluetooth and RF consume, but it had better be virtually nil.  Are there standards specifically designed for low power consumption?

            But if you think this would be easy to build (and your opinion is worth a lot more than mine on this matter), then so much the better...

            •  Basic idea (5+ / 0-)

              Use of a Rogowski coil (which can be in the form of a "clothespin" clip iron-core transformer which simply and softly 'clips on" to a power cord, much like the old AMPROBE meters) as a sensor to detect current.  A more accurate version would  be to make a "passthru" plug with a female on one side and a male on the other -- kinda like a "Clapper" has.  This way both current and voltage can be measured and therefore a more accurate determination of consumption can be calculated.

              The core of the device would be a microcontroller, such as an RFPIC, which has a built-in RF transmitter which can be adapted for line transmission mode (works like those neat little plug-in intercoms, sending an FM signal along the power line).

              The microcontroller and associated small analog interface circuits would measure the voltage and current, do the calculations needed to encode the raw data for transmission and then send the data to a main receiver unit.  The main receiver unit would "poll", or ask each remote one at a time to send data once every so often (an appropriate rate would need to be researched for maximum effectiveness).  The main receiver would then do all the math, calculate consumption for each remote, then display the data either on a built-in LCD or present the data to USB or over the Ethernet to a PC or Mac running a display application.

              The whole thing would cost a lot less than those "X" brand home automation modules.  And for appliances like dishwashers, etc. that wire directly into the panel, replacement breakers can be made to monitor those devices.

              Just gave you guys the functional description of how to go about can read more about what I do at Lupine Systems

              Howlin' at the World from the Left Side of the Planet

              by WolfmanSpike on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 10:30:30 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

          •  You're PC statement is oversimplified. (0+ / 0-)

            Like a PC.  A desktop consumes about 20 times the power of a laptop.  But both seem to be about the same nowadays with flatscreen monitors.  It is just that with a laptop, battery life has to be dealt with as opposed to the unlimited power from the grid used by desktops.  So the laptop uses more efficient components.  So why does not the desktop?  Price, plain and simple.  But if you buy a laptop instead of a desktop the savings would pay the difference between the two machines in no time.

            It's true in almost all cases that laptops use less power than desktops, but not by a factor of 20.  A desktop computer typically draws between 70 and 250 watts, depending on the hardware.  A top of the line gaming computer while playing a game can use 500 or more, for example.  Laptops use between 15-50 watts, although the new, large "desktop replacement" laptops can draw more than 50.  Desktop computers do things faster and better than laptops, like playing games, manipulating photos, and watching DVDs.  Many laptops cannot even perform these tasks, due to their underpowered central and video processors.  

            So, while getting a laptop is a good idea in general (prices are very good these days), be sure it will do what you need it to.

            On the front lines of the energy crisis.
            Peak Oil Hawaii

            by Arclite on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 01:46:07 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  The majority of computer users, (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              and I include this gamer in this statement, don't need that kind of power on a regular basis.  I'm currently running a very power efficient laptop for regular tasks (word, internet, email) and occasionally fire up the 500W desktop for games.  For most home users, the second use-case is non existent (they'd buy an XBox or some such for gaming).

          •  List of Desktop & Laptop power usage (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            On the front lines of the energy crisis.
            Peak Oil Hawaii

            by Arclite on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 01:53:54 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  I agree, with the correct know-how (0+ / 0-)

            it would be trivial.  I guess the point of my first comment was "if I can imagine how to build half of this, there have got to be bunches of people who know how to build the whole thing."

      •  Smart person. (6+ / 0-)

        You are, and you are interested in doing this on a DIY basis.

        To me, the beauty of an internet-based system is that it gets more people involved, potentially.

        And contrary to the thoughts of some here, it wouldn't surprise me one bit if my utility, at least, started a program to hook its customers up with the power measurement hardware to go with it, as they seem to have begun to appreciate the value of negawatts to their own bottom line. At least judging by their program to give rebates on energy-efficient appliances.

        Moderation in most things. Except Reactors. IFR forever!

        by billmosby on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 07:48:27 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  My power company has a device (0+ / 0-)

          on my air conditioner that regulates it during the summer. It gets a little warm in the afternoon on very hot days, but it's never been uncomfortable.

          They give me a rate break each month for allowing them to install it.

          "Obama is just too smart to be stupid." --NYmind

          by Dragon5616 on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 01:49:40 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  Market this. Seriously. (10+ / 0-)

        The suggestions you mention are well beyond the technical abilities of most of us.  (Incidentally, I think some versions of the Power Cost Monitor use your second suggestion, and watch the white dot go by.)

        But Google is not selling a device.  Google is relying on third parties to build devices, and then feed the info to their servers.  (They are talking to device makers.)

        Assuming you have time/ability to build this (and that you can beat competition and that this actually takes off), you could be one of those third parties, selling to a potentially large audience.  (And, if you'd like, offer a switch on your device so it will bypass google and go to an App on your desktop.)

        •  absolutely no money (0+ / 0-)

          late 50s unemployed, out of real work for several years, behind in utility payments.  No way I have the money to do a startup, nor the time to do so as I'm busy with whatever work I can scrape up.

          Love to do it, but with the economy in the tank few have money to sink into such a project.  I've even lost a couple of consulting retaining contracts I had, and they were minimal amounts.

      •  Measuring electric power @ home w/o special tools (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ladybug53, wondering if

        This takes a little effort, but is workable:

        Humanity has eaten more than 80,000 plant species through its evolution...We now rely on just 8 crops to provide 75 percent of the world's food. -Vandana Shiva

        by Pay It Forward on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 10:13:38 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  LOL! (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      gpclay, limulus, Roadbed Guy

      And if 15% of America cuts its energy use by 15%

      Then there will be that much more fossil-fuel energy for the rest of the world to use!

      Remember, an economic system based on "growth" tends to use more energy regardless of the good intentions of a few, because "growth" is the mechanism by which it realizes its dreams of prosperity.  And, unless you're planning to offer something good like socialism to that bottom half of humanity which lives on less than $2.50/day, well, then "growth" (and increasing energy use) it is.

      "It all makes perfect sense/ Expressed in dollars and cents/ Pounds, shillings and pence" -- global anthem, from Roger Waters' song "Perfect Sense"

      by Cassiodorus on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 07:45:37 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Bizarro mindset. (10+ / 0-)
        1. The amount of fossil fuel on the planet is finite, at least for  the next 100 million years or so.
        1. The US consumes 25% of the world's fossil fuels, but only has 5% of the population.
        1.  The US imports 70% of it's oil, which is a leak form the US economy.
        1.  The average householder saving $1000 per year will spend that $1000 on something else - probably half will be on manufactured goods and half on services.
        1.   Services are virtually 100% domestic supply - like Fitness clubs, and MacDonalds etc, and the US probably produces something like 50% of its manufactured goods, so 75% of that money will be recycled to the domestic economy.
        1.  the average multiplier on domestic spending is around 3, so  for every $ saved on electricity, you should get something like $2.25 GDP growth.

        The reduction in demand for fossil fuels, will keep oil prices down, and this will benefit the poor nations.

        The losers - oil sheiks and coal barons.

        •  You miss the point -- (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          gpclay, Go Kid Hugo

          More fossil fuel consumption = higher global atmospheric CO2 concentration = more extreme abrupt climate change effect.

          The amount of fossil fuel on the planet is finite, at least for  the next 100 million years or so.

          Yes, and let's burn it ALL, lest we waste one drop.  OOPS!  Runaway greenhouse effect.  Sorry!

          "It all makes perfect sense/ Expressed in dollars and cents/ Pounds, shillings and pence" -- global anthem, from Roger Waters' song "Perfect Sense"

          by Cassiodorus on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 09:10:51 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  Yes, indeed, I remember reading a study (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        gpclay, Cassiodorus

        not long ago how people in Norway, IIRC, used the money they saved from making their homes more energy efficient.

        Not at all an uncommon use of the funds was to take a trip to New Zealand.  Which, of course, completely used WAY more energy than ever was saved by replacing their desktop computer with a laptop . . .

    •  Important Diary (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      historys mysteries, Go Kid Hugo

      nor can we consume the world's resources without regard to effect. For the world has changed, and we must change with it. - Barack Obama

      by Lefty Coaster on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 08:05:29 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  um, i have a power measuring device. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Arclite, swampus

      it measures power used on a specific outlet.
      install enough, monitor them, and you're done, right?

      Jesus ain't comin', go ahead and put the Nukes back now.

      by RisingTide on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 08:16:33 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Nope. It doesn't measure power use by your (6+ / 0-)

        furnace/circulation system, ceiling fan, central air conditioner, overhead lighting, or dishwasher.  (Or probably clothes-dryer, since that uses too much power for kill-a-watts and similar devices.)

        And most of these devices don't record data, so you do have to monitor five or ten or twenty of these things at once, which gets boring fast.

        •  Well, that depends on the device. n/t (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
        •  killawatts record data. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          there is ABSOLUTELY no reason I couldn't just BUILD one for my clothesdryer. And it would be cheaper than having an internet capable recording device.

          Gadgets are good, sure, but this is a trifle overboard for the problem.

          It's not my fault folks can't do math or basic electrical engineering.

          Also, you seem to think that I either own all of what you just listed, or have control over them.
          No dishwasher. no central airconditioner (rather, I READ my ELECTRICITY BILL WHICH IS NOTATED DAY BY DAY.)


          Jesus ain't comin', go ahead and put the Nukes back now.

          by RisingTide on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 11:03:27 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Most folks doing basic electrical engineering! (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            G2geek, zozie, Nailbanger

            Sounds like a quick remedy for overpopulation.

            Moderation in most things. Except Reactors. IFR forever!

            by billmosby on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 11:39:32 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  If I can learn it in under a month, (0+ / 0-)

              so can most folks on kos. simple is simple.I'm not talking SAFE precisely, but if you're willing to take some basic precautions...

              Jesus ain't comin', go ahead and put the Nukes back now.

              by RisingTide on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 12:00:12 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  I dunno.. (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                You must be talking something pretty simple. I'm an engineer (mechanical) by training. I have had occasion to delve into electrical systems both at home and at work from time to time, and moments of absent-mindedness have snagged me occasionally, or nearly have.

                I'm not against people getting knowledge and doing for themselves, and we could all benefit from basic knowledge about energy. On the other hand, my wife has worked in hospitals and for medical insurance companies, and she has a totally different take on the ability of people to avoid danger. I suspect the truth lies in the middle somewhere.

                Moderation in most things. Except Reactors. IFR forever!

                by billmosby on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 12:08:35 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  yes, for your wife's sake (0+ / 0-)

                  i'd recommend any experimentation electrical be done in a solid metal box, with a nice lid. just in case of fire.

                  measuring volts or amps is pretty simple. that's what my physics knowledge tells me.

                  making things safe is far from simple, but a few small precautions (like being able to figure out likely failure states) can bring danger down to rational.


                  Jesus ain't comin', go ahead and put the Nukes back now.

                  by RisingTide on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 01:16:07 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

          •  Hmmm... your situation is different than mine (0+ / 0-)

            My kill-a-watt (admittedly an older model) doesn't record data.  My electric utility (which I've dealt with for myself and on behalf of my employer-- a quite large account)certainly doesn't record day-by-day data.  I do own some of the devices mentioned above.  And although I can do math, I can't do much electrical engineering.

            So the next question is which of us is more like the majority of Americans (with respect to electrical consumption), you or me.  I would argue that I am, and therefore that this sort of thing would be good for a large fraction of Americans, even if it wouldn't add much value for you.

            Furthermore, although I'm not thrilled about letting Google learn even more about me, its still great not to have to involve my utility.

        •  City/landlords won't install meters (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          G2geek, ladybug53, trumpeter

          The problem with all of this is that so many people live in apartments. My friend's father's entire 200 unit condo complex is on one water meter and the city won't individualize units because they say that paying the meter reader to read more meters costs more than expected gains?!?(water conservation is very relevant in California/Arizona where there will be restrictions this year).

          Likewise, I can't remember when I've been able to even have my own gas or electric bill. So many buildings have a shared electric bill, where you see neighbors turning on the heat and have no incentive to save yourself.
           At the same time, I guess apartments have lower average bills than houses.

          •  Reminds me... (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            G2geek, ladybug53

            ..of a time about 30 years ago when a group of friends stayed in a condo in Jackson, WY. It was around 0 to 20 below F, but we couldn't turn the heat on at all for fear of overheating the place. The units on either side had their heat up so high it was making our place more than toasty!

            Moderation in most things. Except Reactors. IFR forever!

            by billmosby on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 12:02:04 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

        •  The killawatt is a nice short term substitute (0+ / 0-)

          I agree that the Google solution is much more comprehensive and easy to use.  But you can pick up a Kill-a-watt for $23 from Amazon.  It's a good way to address issues now, like how much does my TV draw when it's off?  And should I throw food in the trash or use the disposer?

          On the front lines of the energy crisis.
          Peak Oil Hawaii

          by Arclite on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 01:58:36 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  Yes. It's just a little more work... (0+ / 0-)

        Actually, you can use the same one.  Just switch it out once you've recorded the necessary information and move to the next outlet/device/appliance.

        You can also use an amp meter.  Just remember this formula:

        watts = amps X volts

        •  Adding... (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          BYw, nosleep4u

          I think the diarist is trying to make the point that it is helpful to have a constant reminder.  I'm in agreement here.

          I started out that way when moving things to solar.  When you're doing this, you really have to know what everything uses.  Now I mostly just keep track of it in my head.

          Following the diarist's advice will help you get to that point.  It will help you develop better habits.

        •  yeah, it's a good thing. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          I learned that turning off the power supply to my compy (aka the power switch on the floor) saves $2 a month, if i do it consistently.
          not gonna get THAT from those electricity graphs, I'd wager.

          Jesus ain't comin', go ahead and put the Nukes back now.

          by RisingTide on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 11:00:43 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  not really (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          watts does not equal amps times volts when you have AC power and power factor less than 1 (like motors and fluorescent lights)

          •  Yes, but for all intents and purposes... (0+ / 0-)

            won't this method will still work?  It's my understanding that the power company bills for watts figured in amp*volts.  Right?  If you're on the grid, it seems that this should work.

            I work mostly with DC now and measure my amp use before it's inverted to AC, but my numbers now are within 1% of what they were before (after accounting for energy used by the inverter).

            Anyway, with a name like NRG Guy, I'll happily give you the final word on this if you're still around.  

    •  fantastic idea(s) (0+ / 0-)

      maybe a joint Government/Google project would ease some concerns about Google being the sole owner of all of that data.  The grow ops are going to stick out like a sore thumb, but the new prez seems to be less concerned about a little MJ usage.
      This stuff really appeals to my engineering mind.  I have been saying roughly the same thing forever, it seems, but you have cinched it by making it fun!

    •  First step in a highly complex value proposition (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      barbwires, stagemom, Arclite, chapter1

      Here's the take on Google's entry from yesterday's Smart Grid News.

      Google is jumping into what companies like GridPoint and Silver Spring have been doing for a couple of years.  Their entry does legitimize the data monitoring/aggregation/dissemination model of energy intelligence, but it's only the first step and a half.

      There are three tiers to "electranet"-style efficiency:

      1. Low-hanging fruit (e.g., CFLs, eliminating vampire loads).
      1. Demand-side management/changing personal habits.
      1. Total systems optimization, including supply-side management.

      I agree that the Power Meter will incentivize people to pick the low-hanging fruit, and this will indeed lead to lower consumption.  The question is, what happens after that?  The answers are harder.

      After one takes initial conservation steps, actual reduction in electricity consumption is more difficult without making changes to personal living standards.  For example, an electric clothes dryer uses the same amount of electricity at midnight as it does at 3 p.m.  For me to change my personal habits to set the dryer to run at midnight, there has to be a price incentive.  That's why smart grid setups are based on market rates.

      I could allow the utility to cycle down appliances like air conditioners during peak demand periods, which would reduce both cost and consumption but make my life a little more uncomfortable.  Again, for the right price, I might be willing to do this.  This allows for "peak shaving" by the utility, which creates greater efficiencies (i.e., flattening of the demand curve), but ultimately runs into its own problems.

      It is in the aggregate that this becomes more complicated.  What if everyone decided to run their electric clothes dryer at midnight (as opposed to spreading it out between 10 p.m. and 4 a.m.)?  If that happens, the market price will spike.  So what's needed at that point is optimization of the network.

      One other point--if I have installed PV with storage, or have a PHEV, and I have excess capacity to sell back to the grid, then I will want to realize the best price for those kilowatts.  As a net contributor to the system, I want to keep most of the value for myself and not cede it to Google or the utility.  I am also situated differently from the household that consumes but does not produce. So at some point, supply side management has to enter into the equation.

      Google's own chief economist, Hal Varian, said it best: when every market participant has perfect information, then the most a seller can receive as a return is his risk-adjusted cost of capital.  What both Google and the utilties are doing here is maintaining the tremendous data disparity between homeowners and suppliers.  That, ultimately, is the model that has to change.

      PV owners of the world, unite!

      •  Thanks-- very interesting link. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        I also generally agree w/ your statement that its basically the first step and a half.  But I'm guessing-- guessing-- that three steps have diminishing returns and increasing expenses to implement as you go down the list.  So the first step and a half is pretty good.
        And while that's certainly not a global warming silver bullet, it could quite probably make a noticeable dent in US consumption.

    •  While you are waiting for Google, (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      shpilk, stagemom, HiBob, BYw

      you might want to try The Energy Detective.

      The Energy Detective

      There are other devices as well. You can monitor your own usage right now. Whether you want to put that info on the web for anyone else to access is up to you.

      You might also want to try the Kill-A-Watt meter. Their latest one allows you to enter your per kilowatt cost and have it display what the electrical usage of the device is costing you.
      Plug Power Meters

      They also have a powerstrip/surge protector model for things like your computer and home entertainment equipment.

      History will not forgive us if we do not try and convict the neocoms for their crimes, every last one of them...

      by Jesterfox on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 08:45:44 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  When we got a new fridge, we borrowed (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      shpilk, stagemom, BYw

      a voltmeter (?) from the Berkeley Tool Library (a wonder of the world) and measured all sorts of stuff. We found out, for example, that the washing machine used more electricity per week resting than running (it runs three or four loads per week) so my husband installed a light switch device so we can turn it off at the wall. The control switch has a red light so you can tell if you've left it connected after you're done with it. It really does help to know where your electricity is going!

      Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. Matthew 25:40

      by pixxer on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 10:44:12 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Many devices draw current when (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        they are not apparently "on", as they have microprocessor circuity. In most cases, these can be shut off without any deleterious effects.

        •  Yeah, it's obvious with the computer stuff (0+ / 0-)

          and everything else with little glowing lights. But the washer? Yikes, that was a surprise!

          Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. Matthew 25:40

          by pixxer on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 10:15:58 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  the washing machine???!! (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        why would the washing machine draw power when it's not running?  Is it digital?
        ---Our washing machine is about 15 years old, so no fancy gadgets or settings.

        •  No clue. Certainly surprised us! (0+ / 0-)

          We just wanted to see what one wash was costing us. But the meter was already running before we started the wash. It's not digital, it's about 10 years old. It's actually on the PG&E list of low-energy washers b/c it has front-loader action (though loads through the top, a neat trick), so we got a $175 rebate when we bought it.

          Moral of story: electricity is creeping into your house where you least expect it! OK, not least, but where you don't expect it.

          Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. Matthew 25:40

          by pixxer on Thu Feb 12, 2009 at 08:22:55 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  Electric company provides usage on a day by day (0+ / 0-)

      basis. Why not simply mandate that? It's easy enough for them to do... I think this is a really silly idea.
      I've saved TONS by reading my electric statement, and adjusting accordingly.

      But try finding someone ELSE who is willing to wake up with 52 degree rooms. snort
      sorry, I'm still skeptical this early in the morning.

      Jesus ain't comin', go ahead and put the Nukes back now.

      by RisingTide on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 11:05:06 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  great diary, one framing suggestion... (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      stagemom, chapter1, infojunkie, billmosby

      i think efficiency is a far, far better frame that conservation (assuming that efficiency is in fact the means by which you intend to conserve).

      electricity is not a redwood forest, it's a highly regenerable commodity and so there's no inherent value in conserving it.

      conservation implies virtuous self-sacrifice, while efficiency implies clever self-interest (i.e. getting more for less).

      "I don't think they're going to be any more successful in 2010 or 2012."
      -Yes On 8 co-manager

      by jethropalerobber on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 11:20:43 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Electricity IS a non-renewable resource (0+ / 0-)

        When it is generated from fossil fuels (and nuclear), as the vast majority of electricity in this nation is.  In the short term, it does need to be conserved so we can ramp up more renewable sources.  Efficiency implies that there is no need to change your habits, since you can continue on the same path simply using less energy.  Conservation does imply sacrifice, and frankly, in addition to efficiency, that's what's needed.  Japan (where I lived for six years) and Europe enjoy very similar lifestyles to ours at half the electric usage, much of that "sacrifice" caused by artificially high energy prices.

        On the front lines of the energy crisis.
        Peak Oil Hawaii

        by Arclite on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 02:10:52 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Well Written Diary (0+ / 0-)

      Tons of personal perspective, appropriate links and limited use of very useful blockquotes.  And a chart!

      So nice to see this diary.  Especially considering the other Blockquotes and a Blurb diaries that somehow end up on the Recc list.  I like to see those who respect their topic enough to spend some time actually writing about it end up on the recc list.

      Thank you for your effort.

      ~Connect the dots, la la la la la~

      by CWalter on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 01:31:10 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  This is truly good news (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      shpilk, AllisonInSeattle, chapter1

      and the sort of thing that should go out in a stimulus package. (100 million homes * $100 = $10 billion to perhaps help drive down electricity use  by 10% across those homes?)

      We've both written on feedback systems before. My take:   Feedback systems: key to a better energy future?

      Now, recall, not everyone will be as motivated as you, not everyone will be as hard working.

      FYI: My home electricity use is down just under 40%, even as we moved our heating from all natural gas to a fossil fuel system of both natural gas and electricity. (Just, two weeks ago, added a wood stove -- thus, heating from NGAS/electricity should drop.)

      •  What's your efficiency on your wood stove? (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        A Siegel

        What did you choose?

        My next thing is to circle around to the insulating that you did so long ago. Have never forgotten reading about it.

        Went under the house w/ the 5 year old so he could have the fun of it (really), and know what houses look like from below... and danged if a TON of the insulation hadn't fallen off the ducts. Nothing like a visual to get the point across.

        Be good to each other. It matters.

        by AllisonInSeattle on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 05:51:53 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  So ... (0+ / 0-)

          I need to diary this.  The efficiency claims seem to be all over the place.  And, well, there are issues that go beyond energy use (e.g, the better 95+% and the look).  My stove is a Morsoe 5660.  It is quite attractive, we are enjoying, and it is picking up a decent share of the heating load.  On the list of "to dos" is a discussion of wood fireplaces, high-efficiency fireplaces and the issues with the installation/usage.

      •  Yep-- it should be in the stimulus package (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        A Siegel

        Although someone speculated elsewhere in the comments (forget where) that the timing of this announcement may have been influenced by Google's desire to get a piece of those tens of billions of smart grid dollars.

        I remembered that diary as I wrote this.. thanks for the link, as I couldn't find it at the time though.  Hope I didn't steal too much :)

    •  Don't even need a shovel for it to be ready!! n/t (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Men make their own history, but they do not make it as they please: Marx

      by TNThorpe on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 03:01:31 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  a year from now, (0+ / 0-)

      when you say "I told you so," make sure AL RODGERS is nearby to take that unforgettable picture of you doing it, so we can get the penultimate celebration.
      thank you so much for being able to think so clearly while inebrieated or however it's spelled...
      thanks for the links. now, just don't move my cheese!

      I have always found that mercy bears richer fruits than strict justice. -Abraham Lincoln, 16th U.S. President (1809-1865)

      by greenbird on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 04:47:25 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Funny (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      I came up with a general version of this idea 15 years ago. I even proposed it in a diary here not too long ago, but was so disgusted with the banality of the comments that I deleted it. If I were only Google, maybe people would listen...

      Here's a condensed version I wrote in a comment back in 2007...

      Lobby to pass a measure requiring all electric and gas utilities to install a meter that tells you how much energy you've used at any given time in dollars and cents.

      Like a fare meter in a taxi.

      Any energy policy has to include an energy efficiency policy. We waste most of the energy we use. And if you really want to see people cut down on their energy consumption, put a price tag on it that they can read and understand in dollars and cents.

      Right now, utility bills are always an unpleasant surprise. This is intentional. The utility companies don't want people thinking about the energy they are consuming.

      But a live meter that tells you how much your bill is going to be, up to that point in time, will revolutionize the way people view their energy consumption.

      Current electric meters are illegible to most people. As are gas and water meters.

      I can't think of a simpler, more plausible, and politically expedient way to exceed Kyoto benchmarks than this simple idea. Nor can I think of a way to put energy efficiency and consumption on the minds of average Americans more than giving them their utility bill in real time, hour by hour, minute by minute.

      Interestingly, I estimated about a 40% drop in consumption just as the Google data shows. Not sure if they correlate.

      And, as the comment excerpt above makes clear, I think we should force the electric utilities to upgrade their meters. They should be inside the house, like your thermostat on you AC unit. Ultimately, all appliances should have little meters, programmable in dollars and cents by inputting you local rates.

    •  Killing Watts can be fun (0+ / 0-)

      We bought a Kill-a-watt device a while back - it's a much less sophisticated device, that monitors and displays the power use at a single outlet.

      We're considering sneaking it onto one outlet at my brother's house while he's off on a business trip. He doesn't think his usage is excessive. Heh....

      It really made a difference in how we understood our power usage, but not in the way it would matter for most people:

      For example, some appliances have a start-up draw that's much higher than the rated usage. So, for example, a refrigerator might be listed as using 375 watts, but the initial kick to get it started could exceed 450 watts for a fraction of a second. This isn't a big deal if you're on the grid, but if you've already installed solar panels and are using an inverter to convert that power from DC to AC, you can easily overload it if multiple startup surges from different appliances happen at once, even if the rated wattage for all of them is well below the inverter's capacity.

      In real life, a TARP is a cover-up.

      by mataliandy on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 10:04:51 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Sounds like a great idea (34+ / 0-)

    I wonder if utilities will get smart and give these devices away, in return for having access to the data.  Peak pricing is a great way to save them money, and free devices would make the concept a lot more popular at the start.

    My electric utility tried to get me to sign up for a program that would allow them to shut off my home A/C during midday, in return for a discount on my bill.  This would be a similar, probably more effective use of a related concept.

    Dear Republicans: You can't repeat a lie enough to make it true.

    by Dallasdoc on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 05:57:23 AM PST

    •  In Dallas? (4+ / 0-)

      I haven't heard of this.

      Listen to Noam Chomsky's Necessary Illusions. (mp3!)

      by borkitekt on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 06:16:41 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Common with big users (9+ / 0-)

      It is interesting to hear that a power company is offering that service to homeowners. I used to work for an electric utility and they had the same arrangement with many of their biggest electricity users, offering them huge price breaks if they would shut down their operations during periods of peak usage. It was lucrative enough that companies would turn their schedules upside down to take advantage of it, and at times it no doubt saved us from rolling brownouts, etc.

      "When facism comes to America it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross." (Sinclair Lewis)

      by GreatMidwest on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 06:52:44 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I've seen it offered for heating (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Dallasdoc, stagemom, Nespolo

        My Mom's house (in the Great White North) has an electric heating and heat storage system: essentially a space heater and a fan inside a big pile of bricks. When power usage spikes, the power company (a co-op, actually) turns off the heater, but the bricks keep the house warm for another 8-12 hours.

    •  This is done in California, too (10+ / 0-)

      Letting the power co. turn off your A/C during the day is available in differing versions which the ratepayer can choose. The more hours of access you let the utility have, the greater the credit on your bill.

      Energy conservation education programs, subsidized CFLs, and other conservation measures have helped reduce electricity usage too.

      Since 1974, California has held its per capita energy consumption essentially constant, while energy use per person for the United States overall has jumped 50 percent.

      "When the well is dry, we know the worth of water." - Poor Richard's Almanac

      by desertguy on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 06:54:25 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  I'm in Arizona where homeowners on APS (4+ / 0-)

      have several choices of plan. I chose the conbined advantage one where your cost depends on the time of day as well as a peak hour demand usage for the month. The meters are all electronic and display total kWhr used, total peak time kWhr used and peak hour usage for the month. Since switching to this plan, I've been able to save significantly with minor changes in the time of day I use various appliances. While I can follow and record the meter readings manually it would be great to be able to do it all online.

    •  I don't get it. (0+ / 0-)

      The power company will be better off, and so will the planet, if they charge higher rates for higher usages (kind of like progressive taxation).  Simple and effective.

      •  Needs some adjustment (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Dallasdoc, ladybug53

        My comment above, medical equipment uses more power but utilities make no distinction. I'm charged as if I'm just a big ol' energy hog when in truth I do everything I can to conserve.

        I've always tried to cut down on usage, even before it was "cool". I like to line dry my clothes, hand wash dishes for the most part, and am constantly thinking of ways to improve. But, I'm dinged big time 'cus I care for my mom and she needs oxygen.

        There are other options such as liquid oxygen, but the services in my town discourage them and I need to be sure they will be available to fill when I need it.

        IMO, utilities should take medical use into account when they are figuring rates. The poor and elderly need help to become more energy efficient.

        My neighborhood is poor, we are the biggest wasters of energy around. We drive old beaters that eat gas, (the royal we...our car is great on gas!) our homes are not well insulated, and most of us can't afford to do the things that are needed.

        If we are serious about reducing energy usage we need to educate and help the poorer among us to improve their homes and cars.

        Just my take on this.

        Notice to dead enders and Daleks. "It's over now so drink your big black cow and get out of here." Steely Dan

        by high uintas on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 11:29:57 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Dishwashers (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          raines, high uintas, ladybug53, Nailbanger

          With a good energy efficient dishwasher, the dishwasher is usually more water and energy efficient than hand washing.  Common sense would dictate not to use things like the "heated dry" option, but a straight up wash with the dishwasher full is definitely more energy efficient in our house.

          •  I have no problem (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            first, my dishwasher is broken and I will replace it when I can, but even before I used it only as needed because it was an older model.

            As I said in an earlier comment, losing employment in July 07 and getting a real job in Sept. 08 burned through all of our home improvement savings. I'm glad we had them, but damn...

            Notice to dead enders and Daleks. "It's over now so drink your big black cow and get out of here." Steely Dan

            by high uintas on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 12:05:41 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

        •  I wonder if this can be claimed on insurance (0+ / 0-)

          You're mother's medical electrical costs, I mean.

          On the front lines of the energy crisis.
          Peak Oil Hawaii

          by Arclite on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 02:23:55 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  This like the MPG readouts on cars (34+ / 0-)

    You end up playing the meter seeing if you can goose the mileage ever higher.  Here, you goose the electric use to get the lowest reading.  Instant feedback is the key.

    Good job, I look forward to follow-ups in the future.

  •  Cool. nt (5+ / 0-)

    "The revolution's just an ethical haircut away..." Billy Bragg

    by grannyhelen on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 05:59:24 AM PST

  •  It occurs to me (12+ / 0-)

    that due to the location of the electric meter at my house (just under a window), I could install a mirror and monitor electrical use in real time.  I will think about that.

    To say my fate is not tied to your fate is like saying, "Your end of the boat is sinking."--Hugh Downs

    by Dar Nirron on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 06:05:45 AM PST

    •  Now that's an interesting idea (11+ / 0-)

      Haven't heard of that before.  I think that will certainly help, but its still not quite the same.  You won't have historical data, so you won't be able to see the spikes.  Also, you might want to turn on/off devices located nearby your window.

      Still, I think you will learn a lot by doing things like "gee, when my spouse turns on the lights in the living room, it starts going round like crazy.  Maybe I should get some new lights."  

      Interesting thinking.

      •  Well, you would have to run a baseline. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Odysseus, RunawayRose

        A couple of scenarios for the mirror:

        (1)  Sample use at various times:  Just after a shower, when the water heater is working at peak; while folks are viewing a movie; using washing machine; using dryer; all appliances off except for refrigerator, sump pump, etc. that are on all the time; while all 3 computers are in operation; convection oven; etc.

        (2)  Go around and purposely turn certain things on and off.  For example, only the "on all the time" appliances, then add certain things one by one to see the difference.  Turn off everything; turn on everything just short of blowing a circuit breaker; etc.  

        (3)  Set up a video camera with a time signature to look at use over time, making a note of when things were turned on and off.

        To say my fate is not tied to your fate is like saying, "Your end of the boat is sinking."--Hugh Downs

        by Dar Nirron on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 07:18:05 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Just note your weekly use (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ogre, Dar Nirron

        As any good manager will tell, measure what you wish to improve. If you measure and post average tickets at a restraunt, like magic, the servers will cause the average ticket to rise. (by suggesting after diiner drinks, desert etc.)
        Just by measuring your energy usage you will gradually use less, I gaurentee it.

    •  Yes (14+ / 0-)

      I really want something like this, but I'm not sure why web-based, or why Google has to be involved?

      I would prefer to see a stand-alone "Prius dsahboard" right next to my thermostat.

      That way I don't even have to make the extra effort to turn on the computer and go to a web page.

      Your regular electric meter is already half way there as you can see the dials turning slowly or whipping around. Resettable digitial readouts of average use and cumulative use over time would give me everything else I want.

      Well, almost--I'd also like to see a "Prius dashboard" in the kitchen to track water usage.

      The other thing about involving Google is that you are giving somebody else your information, to sell back to you and presumably to do with it whatever else they wish. Goodbye to one more sliver of privacy.

  •  Would they aggregate the info?? (18+ / 0-)

    If I'm out of town for a week, or month (when I have $ again), I wouldn't want it broadcasted that I am using 1% of normal, that may be a dead giveaway..

  •  interesting diary (11+ / 0-)

    I would front-page this if you cross-posted at the Iowa progressive community blog Bleeding Heartland (you don't have to be from Iowa!).

    It would also find an interested audience at Progressive Blue.

    I drive a Prius and totally agree that the instant feedback changes the way you drive. If I had that feedback at home, I would conserve more (though we already do things like hang up almost all our laundry to dry instead of use a dryer).

    Join the Iowa progressive community at Bleeding Heartland.

    by desmoinesdem on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 06:06:29 AM PST

  •  I'd buy one! (10+ / 0-)

    It would let me know when things are on that I thought were turned off too!

    We really need demand control for the next gen power grid.  This is definitely a step in the right direction!

    Proud member of the Cult of Issues and Substance!

    by Fabian on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 06:08:12 AM PST

  • (15+ / 0-)

    I love data.

    It is required for good decisions, of course.  I cut my electricity use in about half from my peak.  I use about 6 kWh/day now.

    Great diary, chap!

    Darwinic pilgrims claim the image fills them with an overwhelming feeling of logic. --The Onion

    by mem from somerville on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 06:14:02 AM PST

  •  I'm not sure if the average person will care (6+ / 0-)

    Maybe someone like you is keen to reduce energy consumption.
    But the average person may not care.
    The money you save by conserving is not too much I don't think.

  •  Pennsylvania and other states have been (6+ / 0-)

    talking about providing something like this in every building for at least two years now, but I haven't heard how far along the plans are.

    The metering can help, but there's no need to wait for it.  Thinking through the energy uses in one's home and looking at the power requirements for each device can help make decisions now.

    I've been making replacements toward greater efficiencies for many years and recently noted that our electrical bills are lower than they were 21 years ago when we moved in to our current house.  Then we had no children, and now we have two children who are not short of electronic devices.

    There are still things we can do, and I hope to do more of them this summer.

    As indicated in this diary, reducing energy usage does not require a reduction in life style.

    "Trust only those who doubt" Lu Xun

    by LookingUp on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 06:17:01 AM PST

  •  Geothermal is not a source of power (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Rita in DC, filby

    It is a way to offset use of gas and electricity, but in truth, it takes power to convert the heat from the ground into usable heat or cooling.

    In other words, using electricity, you can capitalize on the temp difference available underground with the right equipment.  But, you can never generate new power with geothermal.

    Small point but highly relevant when talking about alternative energy.

    Help new teachers to grow and love their work at

    by Mi Corazon on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 06:19:23 AM PST

  •  I only recommended this diary (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    OLinda, chapter1

    because I'm drunk too.

  •  I want one!!! (8+ / 0-)

    I don't know how my electricity is used. All I can see is the little wheel on the meter outside spinning around. I'd love, love, LOVE to have something like this so I'd know where to cut back.

    Totally agree on the contests and so forth. It would be "cool" to use less. People will want to.

    People want to do the right thing. They just need the tools so they can. Excellent diary, thanks!

  •  Touring @ Gridpoint (smartgrid develop) tomorrow (10+ / 0-)

    I'm going on a tour tomorrow morning of a Gridpoint facility.  Yes, I'm an energy wonk/guru.

    What is "smartgrid"?  My one line answer to that is "leveraging modern communications technology (the internet and handheld computing) to empower consumers to react to real energy prices while simultaneously giving grid operators millions more observations thereby radically improving reliability and safety."

    This was a Triumph! I'm making a note here: HUGE SUCCESS!

    by Maimonides on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 06:27:20 AM PST

    •  I'd be interested to hear what you learn! n/t (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
    •  One addition to your summary (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Odysseus, Maimonides, imchange

      provided by the project manager of Smart Grid City in Boulder, where Gridpoint is a player.

      "Minimal user intervention."

      One essential of the smart grid model is demand-side management at the appliance level.  In exchange for giving you market rates, the utility has the ability to cycle down your air conditioner or electric clothes dryer during peak demand periods.

      It's going to be a battle of titans for the smart grid data acquisition and aggregation.  In this corner, GE (smart meters) and Google.  In that corner, IBM and Itron.  In another corner, Grid Point (with $270 million of VC money) and Silver Spring.  And waiting in the wings while they all bloody each other is Microsoft and Johnson Controls.

      Should be interesting.

      •  Well, not to quibble (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ReEnergizer, BYw

        but there's two sides of demand-side management.  The form you profile allows the utility to cycle down your appliances.  This is more traditional, plays well with the hopelessly under-informed state regulators.

        I'm talking about a more direct form a Demand Response where the technology (using really cool genetic algorhythms) learns your preferred reaction to price stimulus so that over time (two months from one group that I've seen) the technology makes the decisions you would make.  This type makes luddites state regulators nervous.

        No one has taken it for a full cycle yet (that I know of . . . ) so a full year of response to weather, climate and load conditions is still pending.

        This was a Triumph! I'm making a note here: HUGE SUCCESS!

        by Maimonides on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 08:08:35 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Fair enough (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          The "minimal user intervention" I am referring to, and what they seek to put in place in Smart Grid City, is software- and algorithm-based, as opposed to the traditional DSM programs that have been in place for years.

          The trick with household consumption at a detailed level is that it can be erratic.  What if I'm having a party, or Uncle Ernie is staying for the weekend?  What if one of the kids is pulling an all-nighter to study?  What would be otherwise minor aberrations can cause hiccups, although I agree the "learning" is getting better.

  •  Tracking and feedback are essential components (6+ / 0-)

    in any behavior modification program.  And yeah, my electric meter out behind the porch ain't gonna serve that purpose for me.  I'd pay for a web gadget, though maybe not quite $100.

    "The extinction of the human race will come from its inability to EMOTIONALLY comprehend the exponential function." -- Edward Teller

    by lgmcp on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 06:31:18 AM PST

  •  You know (12+ / 0-)

    The best argument is money. Long term purchases, like refrigerators , washers, dryers , stoves, stereo's , TVs and short term purchases like light bulbs all add up to money.
    Let me explain. I don't want to sound all snotty, but we bought all energy start stuff over the last 4 years. Between the energy star central heating/air, light bulbs, fridges and other general merchandise we have literally cut $150 a month off our electric/gas bill (it is all one company here)
    I won't lie-during the summer we save the most and the winter savings because my wife hails from a tropical climate are not as good-but it is huge.

    A fridge may only save you $10 a month, and that doesn't feel like much-add in the bulbs and the savings has an impact. But washer and dryer savings add the most. Especially on water.
    Being a single income family I can attest to the value of energy star. But it is not a noticeable one until one starts switching EVERYTHING.  
    Whatever, the diary was awesome-I just thought I would add a testimonial.

    •  People who are using really old (5+ / 0-)

      refrigerators are sometimes paying enough in electricity usage to buy and pay for a new one in a year's time.

      There may be just $10 a month difference between one that is ten years old and a new one.

      Hooking all electronics on a surge protector and turning it all off at the surge protecter when not in use saves a lot of money.

      I just learned recently, that you should shut down all programs and word processors before turning off your computer.  It can cause fatal errors, if you don't. So shut off what you can before you turn off the surge protector.

      •  I replaced my 20 old refrigerator with a Sunfrost (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        and cut electricity usage by about 15%/month.

        It will take a long time to pay off the new fridge though, as it was pricey.  On the plus side it doesn't make any noise and doesn't produce nearly as much heat as a regular fridge.

        Democrats give you the Bill of Rights; Republicans sell you a bill of goods!

        by barbwires on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 09:43:01 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Shut down or hibernate your computer before (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        BYw, imchange

        disconnecting power.

        On Windows PCs at least, there are many processes running unnoticed in the background and simply disconnecting instead of doing a graceful shut-down or system hibernation will over time degrade future operation of the system.

  •  This is why U shouldn't listen 2 Stephanie Miller (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Chun Yang, DrFood

    while reading Dailykos.  Because my first response when reading the title was, "What? Farting?!"

    We have talked about a powermeter, I think this diary will become part of the discussion in moving us toward that direction.

    "A conservative is a man with two perfectly good legs who, however, has never learned how to walk forward." - Franklin Delano Roosevelt

    by Clytemnestra on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 06:34:27 AM PST

  •  okay (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    but how?

    I mean you seem to mock CFLs and outside of learning what's consuming teh most you don't seem to actually offer much advice here.

    •  Knowledge is power. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      AllisonInSeattle, chapter1, BYw

      With the availability of this Google gizmo, it will even be electrical power.

      "The true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals." - Barack Obama

      by HeyMikey on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 07:23:52 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Google's knowledge of your habits is... uh-oh.... (4+ / 0-)

        Here's another way in which Google is becoming a domestic surveillance monkey-trap, that people will willingly stick their hands into because it's shiny & new & cool.  

        Now The Google will know exactly what you're doing in your home.

        No doubt this will be of much interest to marketers and whoever else has access to Google's database.

        Sure, it's a wonderful thing for people to have feedback about their power consumption, to reduce their electricity usage.  My last electric bill showed a total of 108 KWH for the month, or 3.6 KWH per day, and I did it without anyone else having a detailed record of everything I do.  (Assuming the diarist has a family of four, they're in the same range.)   If you want to do that, all you need are a few Kill-a-Watt meters, at about $25 each, and then go to town.  

        There needn't be a tradeoff between conservation and personal privacy.  

        The same things Google is doing could be done with open-source software that runs on your home network.  So only you will have the details of your daily life.  

        All the conservation, none of the surveillance.

        •  There's a tradeoff. Give up some privacy for (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          HeyMikey, AllisonInSeattle, ladybug53

          Permanent data storage, (probably) access to third party Apps for analyzing data (Yes, I'm sure there will be some open source, but probably beyond the capability of most users to install and use), and the ability to make efficiency social and fun by competing with your friends.

          I suspect most people will take this tradeoff (given that they tell the grocery store everything they buy each week in return for 25 cents off a few items, whenever they use their customer loyalty card).  Sounds like its not worth it for you.  So be it.

          Personally, I'm not that concerned if Google knows when I turn my coffee maker on or how often I use my dishwasher.  

          On another note, please note that whole-house usage is a lot better than a bunch of kill-a-watts.  Kill-a-watts can't measure dishwashers, ceiling fans, central air, chandeliers or overhead lighting or (usually) driers.  Whole-house measures all of these.  (No offense to kill-a-watts-- I own one and love it.)

          •  "what are you hiding?" (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            AllisonInSeattle, drache

            Sure, consenting adults and all that.  


            When most people have surveillance in their house, those who don't will automatically fall under suspicion.  

            And, if you think this is limited to "when you turn your coffee maker on," have I got a surprise for you.  How'd you like all those marketers to know, in a rough but sufficient way, about you & your spouse's sexual habits & preferences?  

            Intel is one part collection, three parts analysis.  You would be absolutely shocked at the accuracy of detail that can be developed from a relatively small amount of data about a person.  

            •  OK, you've got me hooked... (3+ / 0-)

              How can you tell my sexual habits and preferences from electricity data?  I mean, I guess you can tell what time we switch off the lights (as can my neighbors), but that can be influenced by a lot of different things.  (Or if you're referring to use of electronic sex-toys, I could easily disguise this by messing up signal by also turning my shaver on.)

              Like you, I certainly don't buy the "what are you hiding?" argument.  I just don't consider this important, just like I don't really care who knows what kind of car I drive (or whether the state knows when I go through a toll-booth).

          •  Why should open-source be hard to use? (0+ / 0-)

            Be good to each other. It matters.

            by AllisonInSeattle on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 04:45:19 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Oh boy... (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              I didn't mean too stumble into this debate.. especially since I use a lot of open-source software myself, professionally and personally, and advocate for it.  But...

              I think most would agree that, especially for small projects, open source tends to lag behind on usability (especially installation and reasonable defaults) and tends to be underdocumented.  For most people, this makes it harder to use.

              For larger projects (e.g., Firefox), it is, of course, terrific.

        •  After reducing your energy, do you pass on (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          the killawatt meters?

          So the savings multiply?

          Be good to each other. It matters.

          by AllisonInSeattle on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 04:44:46 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  knowledge doesn't mean much though (0+ / 0-)

        if you can't act on it.

        Congrats you've realized how bad your dryer is at pulling lots of power but what are you going to do about it?

        Knowledge is important yes, but so too is the ablity to act on it.

  •  Smart metering is already availale on the market (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Fabian, wondering if, chapter1, MKSinSA

    Try Echelon.

    Enlightenment and Responsibility ... P.S.: In the Palestine conflict debate, "Justice" is nothing but a code word for "more dead people".

    by anaxiamander on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 06:43:19 AM PST

    •  Yep, and I've owned two primitive smart meters (7+ / 0-)

      kill-o-watt and Power Cost Monitor.  Both were quite helpful, but both had a long way to go.

      If the ~$140 Power Cost Monitor (which I got for ~$30, thanks to utility subsidies) had been hooked up to this service it would have been great.  It wasn't.  

      Smart Meters that supply anywhere near the functionality discussed here cost hundreds of dollars, and my friends don't use them yet.

      Internet search was available before google, too; sometimes the right user interface makes all the difference.  I think this will be such a case.

      •  It's all about ease of use, access to info, and (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Disillusioned, Fabian, chapter1, BYw

        the "cool" factor. If it's something that just serious greenies want to pay for and use, it's not easy or cheap enough. If you can't download your info, break it up by appliance, individual lights, etc., then it doesn't give you enough access. And if it doesn't have a certain cachet then it will remain in the backwater of hardcore green geekdom and never make it mainstream.

        The way this is described, it sounds cost-efficient, full of info, and easy to use. Plus, like has been suggested, it offers opportunities for contests, etc. That's the kind of thing that can really push this into wide use.

  •  Tipped and Recced - (15+ / 0-)

    Couldn't agree more.

    The dryer is a big bad.
    In summer I hang my clothes outdoors.  I love to.
    With Wyoming's low humidity, they dry in 15 seconds.
    (So what if I walk like Frankenstein - Damp washcloth, air cycle, 2 minutes if that bothers you)

    I use air conditioning only a few hours per summer - And that's to keep the system running.  Otherwise I draw in cool air in the wee hours, then close the windows in the morning.  I've never understood why someone has to boil potatoes and broil a steak for dinner when it's 97F outside.  If you really want the steak, grill it outside and keep the heat there.  (Gas far better than charcoal)  And have a potato salad from the fridge rather than mashed potatoes.

    I find that when I have family or friends visiting that my electricity use can almost double.  Granted, more people means more use, but I'm not a big TV person, I like the house cool in winter and warm in summer, I take short showers every other day. (Yeah, the hot water heater is elec because of venting problems)

    We used to laugh at my Depression-era Dad for all his stinginess.  He would pound on the bathroom door and yell, "Five minutes!"  He grew up in a time when wastefulness was seen as wrong.  Not a bad attitude to have today.

    •  Luther's Small Catechism (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Odysseus, sngmama, johnnygunn, billmosby

      states that waste is the same as theft.

      Just a trivia item for the "so what has religion every done for the environment?" folks that hang out here.

      To say my fate is not tied to your fate is like saying, "Your end of the boat is sinking."--Hugh Downs

      by Dar Nirron on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 07:27:16 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Any suggestions re allergies (0+ / 0-)

      We used to hang out our clothes and used the AC very minimally in the summer (kept the windows open at night).

      Then my wife developed pretty bad allergies - to dust and to certain kinds of pollen.  The advice from allergists is pretty much the opposite of what would save power -

      keep the house shut up during pollen season
      don't hang clothes up outside
      Use the ventilation system (AC/heat/just fan) a lot to filter stuff out of the air

      Anyone else have these kinds of issue and still figure out ways to cut power usage?

      •  Ideas (0+ / 0-)

        Dry outside anyway--and use the tumble dry setting for a few minutes to "soften" the dry clothing and to beat the allergens off the clothing...

        Just running the fan on the ventilation system isn't that big a power use.  It's the heating and cooling that is.

        [When] the land... has become private property, the landlords... love to reap where they never sowed, and demand rent even for its natural produce. ~Adam Smith

        by ogre on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 01:17:16 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  fan is huge power user (0+ / 0-)

          For most heating/cooling systems, running the fan 24x7 year round uses more power than cooling your home all summer in most places.  It will be the largest end use in many home -- 4000 kWh/yr.  I would not run the fan 24x7 since it may actually make your air quality worse (depending on the duct system and where the ducts run).  I would rather just use an air cleaner directly where the affected person is.  If you really need to run the air handler fan 24x7, look for a new product -- a high efficiency replacement fan that should be coming out any day now.  It will reduce power usage of that fan by 50% or more.

  •  I have wanted to use a clothes (4+ / 0-)

    drying rack that i can wheel in and out, during summer.

    Any suggestions where I can get one? the ones I googled cost hundreds.

    There was a guy on 60min or a CBS show who has a factory in Indiana that makes solar powered coolers/AC units.

    Great diary

  •  Excellent (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Odysseus, Fabian, BYw, j b norton

    I saw this product the other day, that (installed with a smart meter) can provide instant feedback to an owner on their simple home furnace system--as well as web-access to trend logging and long-distance control of their home HVAC system.

    Pretty awesome for a relatively cheap product.

    I agree about feedback, in fact I wrote a diary on the concept.

    Is what was true now no longer so? --Joe Strummer and the Mescaleros, Johnny Appleseed

    by Sylvester McMonkey Mcbean on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 06:49:18 AM PST

  •  I marvelled at what happened to Enron... (8+ / 0-)

    once Californians started to turn out lights when they left the room and reconsidered how much AC they needed.

    The impact on energy futures was swift.

    Some might say 'just', also...

  •  Yay but... (9+ / 0-)

    do you really want google having your health records, your location, your energy consumption, what you had for lunch, your emails, your ims, your web search history...

    the surveillance state has gone private.  I wouldn't be surprised to find out that google is a CIA cover operation.

    Google - (US) Government Omnipotent Operations Global Luminosity Enterprise

    "Seeing every side of the argument causes paralysis." - (paraphrased - Abbie Hoffman).

    by angry liberaltarian on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 06:55:46 AM PST

    •  yes in some respects you are right to worry (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      chapter1, BYw, imchange

      but there also is good in closeness and knowledge of the tribe.

      I wonder if we will be able to discover it.

      Attack of the Replicans, it's an inside job on America.

      by 88kathy on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 07:11:19 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  im tribal - chippewa (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        88kathy, imchange

        and im a citizen of the world.  but i dont necessarily want ken downunder from Perth to be able to access my electric usage...

        technoology is great, but so is privacy.

        "Seeing every side of the argument causes paralysis." - (paraphrased - Abbie Hoffman).

        by angry liberaltarian on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 07:12:59 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I always think of Davy Crockett (0+ / 0-)

          who was rumored to have moved because he could see the smoke from a neighbor's chimney.  I would like people closer and give up them knowing my habits for the closeness.

          The tribe may just be all of us.

          Attack of the Replicans, it's an inside job on America.

          by 88kathy on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 07:18:35 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  Privacy concerns are definitely legitimate (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      88kathy, VClib, BYw, imchange

      But google has a good track record so far, at least in my book (compared to most).  But I share your concern that its a lot of concentration of power with zero outside oversight.

      I think of this as a lesser evil.

      I doubt its a gov't front-- though.  Remember, most of their rise was during the Bush administration.  They are about two orders of magnitude more competent than anything remotely associated with that administration.

  •  Is there a way to 'join' on Facebook (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    or does one just 'install'?

    To move forward, we must look at the past so the same characters don't pop up again. Impeach BushCo.

    by MsGrin on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 06:56:33 AM PST

  •  Explain the facebook thing to me (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Fabian, donnamarie, BYw, MarkMarvin

    I just joined facebook a few weeks ago, and am still trying to "get it."

    So I got to the facebook page, click to allow the app, but then what?

    Did I join a group? Is it supposed to do something? All I see is the same facebook page... which could just as well be a regular website. What's the facebook part of it?

    Sorry.... I'm facebook-challenged. Explain?

    Oh well, I wasn't using that civil liberty anyway.

    by think2004 on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 07:00:17 AM PST

    •  Whoops, sorry unclear.. here's explanation. (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      think2004, Fabian, ladybug53, Floja Roja, BYw

      Once you allow the app-- if everything is working right-- when you go to the same page (, you'll see (near lower left) a list of useful, energy-conservation related ideas.  (These are the most popular ones.)  You can also click on "all ideas" on top for list of all ideas.

      Treat it just like a web page.  Look through these ideas. Many will be old-hat to readers of this site, but some will be new.  If you want, play with the calculators.  See if there are any you want to do.

      If so, pledge to implement them.  It will track your savings and post to your feed.

      If you have questions or comments about any idea, post it on the discussion board on the bottom.

      Share some with your friends (hit share button) so they implement some, too.  It will track (and display on initial home page) how much carbon all of your friends put together are saving.

      So, basically, its just a social web page.

  •  I'd like to see the changes from Monitor to LCD (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Odysseus, Disillusioned, donnamarie, BYw

    for my computer (as well as having the computer on vs. off).  That would be very helpful to me.  I'm sure I'm wasting, but I'm just not able to see how much and be able to compare waste vs. convenience.

  •  this is huge, I improvised a device like this (6+ / 0-)

    for my parents house. Its pretty MacGuiver-esque. But it works and it certainly was a wake-up call to my parents about how much energy they use.

    We realized our heat-pump was horribly inefficient, so we replaced it and we have slashed $100 average off our monthly electric bill.

  •  Really Cool - Update your numbers (6+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Odysseus, Fabian, ladybug53, chapter1, BYw, imchange

    Wind alone produced about 1.5% of electricity in the U.S. in 2008. (extrapolating EIA numbers) Just to let you know. Things are changing on a visible scale.

    This kind of thing is essential though. We won't get close to any kind of real CO2 reductions without things like this going full blast.

    •  Woops-- thanks-- do you have a source (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      I'm embarrassed to see the EIA page I linked to/used actually dates to 2003.  I had assumed it was current.  Do you have a current source?

      •  I really hate when people make this comparison (0+ / 0-)

        How does it further your argument by denigrating renewable energy? The better comparison is to say it will reduce the tons of carbon spewed by XX% rather than indicating that wind and solar suck implying that there is no point in pursuing them.


        Look, I'm the world's biggest fan of energy efficiency, but it is a completely different argument than renewables.

        •  It's the equivalent of saying (0+ / 0-)

          don't buy a hybrid because you should drive less.

          •  I didn't mean to denigrate, just toput in context (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            BYw, imchange, arrows theorem

            I'm also a strong supporter of renewables.  I pay extra for renewable power, and wrote several diaries last year in support of the renewable subsidies.

            But this seemed as good a way as any to express the potential magnitude of savings.  And I don't think I denigrated renewables in any way.

            Although I confess that I do get a bit frustrated when people argue the best way to reduce their emissions is to put solar panels on their roof. They may be right, but almost all of them will never do that.  So they do nothing.  People need to start thinking efficiency first, renewables second.

      •  Well my diary :-) (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        Look at the wind diary and the EIA references. I had to extrapolate using 2006 efficiency and 2008 volume since the amount of wind power in 2008 was double 2006 values.

        Table 16 gives 2006 values and estimates for 2007 and 2008 which are slightly low for wind. Actual deployment numbers from AWEA and NREL are higher for 2008 especially. But even using the low numbers its close enough.

        I m guessing that 2009 will see a much smaller growth in Wind due to the economics and fears.

  •  This is awesome (6+ / 0-)

    finally we are starting to see little changes that will be big when they are all added up.  Then people will see that energy conservation does save money and will be more open to bigger things, like renewable energies.  Plus this has to be one of the smartest things I have heard in a long long time.  Seems we have been revolving around teh stoopid for too long, too many Liquid Crystal Plasma Hi-Def HDTV Big-Screen 1080DPI Teevees, not enough smart devices like this.

    "To the corruptions of Christianity, I am indeed opposed; but not to the genuine precepts of Jesus himself." Thomas Jefferson

    by meatwad420 on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 07:08:11 AM PST

    •  What, you don't like 1984? (4+ / 0-)

      Liquid Crystal Plasma Hi-Def HDTV Big-Screen 1080DPI Teevees

      Well, we have to fancy-up Mr. Orwell's box in every house, don't we? How else will we keep the masses trained and placated?

      There has never been a protracted war from which a country has benefited. The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting. - Sun Tzu

      by OHeyeO on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 07:26:22 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Bravo!!! (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Disillusioned, Fabian, BYw

    Amen!  Alleluia!

    This basically what I preach day in and day out.  The way out of the mess we are in globally (and as a nation for that matter) needs to focus as a priority on conservation and efficiency at least, if not more, as much as alternative energy sources.  

    I am always stunned when I talk to other people who drive the same cars as I have that I get much, MUCH better mileage - all because of the conscious effort I make to use the feedback that is available.  

    I adore Google for this.  

    "What the cynics fail to understand is that the ground has shifted beneath them..." Amen.

    by nsfbr on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 07:13:01 AM PST

  •  I must confess, (0+ / 0-)

    when I read your intro, I thought you were snarky and drunk.

    I wanna quote another British poet.

    by Lazar on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 07:17:00 AM PST

  •  Hope this works out the way you think. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Odysseus, Disillusioned, BYw

    I am well aware - don't know why the rest of the nation isn't - that conservation could reduce our carbon footprint by up to 75% with current technology alone.  Personally my averaged electricity use (taking what I've used over the year and dividing by 365 - 366 for 2008) is 6.5-8.8 KWH, and that includes air conditioning in the summer.  There is very little more I can do (trading my 2004 energy star refrigerator for a Sunfrost is a little beyond my budget - solar panels are a whole lot beyond my budget), except periodically bug my congresscritters for laws making the source of my electricity green.  (SWEPCO is coal-fired and determined to continue thus, even while they blather about how green they are.  I'll give the devil his due, SWEPCO also has some of the best customer service/emergency service procedures I've seen in the 5 states and almost 6 decades I've lived.)  And before you ask, I drive an '83 Datsun when I drive at all - carpool to work - and my natural gas furnace is set at 62F.

  •  Power to the people (6+ / 0-)

    This gives people the power to understand how to lessen energy impact in their own way. It also reduces the power of naysayers to paint conservation as a bad thing as they did when Jimmy Carter put the sweater on in the White House.

    Give the public the means to understand the economics of lifestyle and each person/family will make good decisions on how to conserve that fit their own situation. No one is telling them how to live and they help in overall energy conservation by making decisions that fit their particular needs.

    A big structure is still made up of many small parts. This gives the small parts the ability to fit into the bigger structure.

    There has never been a protracted war from which a country has benefited. The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting. - Sun Tzu

    by OHeyeO on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 07:22:53 AM PST

  •  Brilliant (7+ / 0-)

    I agree completely about energy use feedback. My 2009 Honda Fit has the fuel consumption meter too. Seeing the little bars move while coasting is great.

    We also have a Kill-a-Watt meter to plug into outlets to measure plug in devices. All kinds of information from that. Unfortunately ceiling fans/lights can't be measured. I have thought about a meter to show whole house electricity usage.

    Here are some things I have done to save energy and money around my house. No change in comfort. Actually probably improved comfort.

    *Outside light is on a motion detector. When we walk outside it comes on for something like 5 minutes and goes off. So even coming home to a dark house the car will trip the light on.

    *Change ALL light bulbs to CFLs.

    *Installed ceiling fans/lights in all rooms that have ceiling lights.

    *Front loading clothes washer with high spin rate. Ours goes up to 1200 rpm. Clothes come out damp and they dry quickly

    *Clothes dryer measures dampness and shuts off automatically

    *Insulate! I am lucky my walls have blown-in cellulose insulation. Last summer I blew in a lot more in the attic. I also installed gable vents.

    *Installed a wood stove. 2 1/2 cords of wood about $500

    We live in Ithaca New York. Cold long winters.

    There are probably a few more things we have done, but we have two computers, a fish tank, three TVs with DVD players/VCRs 2 stereos, electric dryer, dishwasher, pretty much everything.

    Average electric use for the year: 297.5 kwh per month
    Average natural gas use: 41 therms per month

    •  Hi, other Ithacan (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Odysseus, ladybug53

      I dug out last month's electric bill and we are running nearly 200 kW per day, but we are Total Electric and do all of the heating at night. Six hundred gallons of water in the basement. And no floor drain, if something bad happens. We also have solar domestic water, but the roof angle is wrong so it gets snow-covered for the winter (it should come on today!).

      We are with you, motion-detector lights, except for the sodium light outside (we are rural Ithaca). CFLs except for the lights not used too much that are on dimmers, I don't want to spend money on dimmable CFLs without lamps dying that need to be replaced. I walk around all evening turning lights off after the spouse.

      I am sure that we could get a new fridge and it would be cost-saving, but we are one of the families cutting back major-time. Please, old fridge (+20) don't die on me now. And the dryer: Bought before kid #1 who will be 23 soon, please don't go away, we eliminated the outdoor line some years back, due to bird poop.

      Americans, while occasionally willing to be serfs, have always been obstinate about being peasantry. F. Scott Fitzgerald, the Great Gatsby

      by riverlover on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 07:46:20 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  You would probably save (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Odysseus, BYw

        the payment amount each month on a new refrigerator, if you get an energy efficient one.  You can get zero interest credit for a year at some of the building places like Lowes or Home Depot sometimes.  If you decide to do that, be sure it is all paid off in the year, because you are charged full interest for the whole year if you don't pay it off within a year.

        Some think that putting milk jugs filled with water in the freezer when it isn't full of frozen food helps keep it from kicking in too often.

        I could be wrong, but I don't think any dryer is very energy efficient.  The only energy saving thing about mine is it has a setting to dry them to damp. Then you can hang them to finish drying.  You can set the timer on an old one to where it won't totally dry, but will get the wrinkles out.

    •  I just bought a 2009 Honda Fit Sport... (0+ / 0-)

      I absolutely love it.  That meter should be required in every new car.  It literally becomes a game to get better gas mileage.  

      Jhogg, how much are you averaging?  Right now, we are averaging 33mpg.  I get ticked when it drops below 33 and start driving better.  It becomes an obsession, but I guess it's a healthy obsession.

      •  We love the Fit too (0+ / 0-)

        Ours is a Storm Silver Metallic Base automatic. We only get about 25 mpg. Here in Ithaca, we have gorges. The motto of Ithaca is "Ithaca is Gorges." I have looked at Google maps using the terrain map and it looks like  we have an 800 foot drop over the course of a mile from our house to downtown. I live on East Hill and work on South Hill. So pretty much every drive is heavy accelerator use. When we can drive on a relatively flat road for a while we get up in the 30s.

        Ithaca is really beautiful! So many waterfalls.

        But I have also found that when I check our milage at fill up it is less than the meter says. Over the next couple of fill ups check your milage with a calculator. I bought an iTouch/iPhone application called Gas Hog which helps me keep track of our milage.

        To compare, we also have a 2008 Honda Odyssey that has an eco engine. When it is not using much power the engine can shut down 2 or 3 cylinders. On the highway we get about 25 mpg. Around town we got 11.

        The fuel meter is the best idea I have seen in a car, well except for comfort and safety items. I imagine how much money and fuel is wasted when some big pickup driver is racing up the "hills" around here.

        The Fit is Go!

        •  We have the same color automatic. (0+ / 0-)

          Thanks for the app tip.  I bought my wife an iPod Touch last year, but I now use it every day for just about everything.  The best handheld device out there, period.  

          My wife uses it to drive to and from work on the freeway, and it's mostly flat.  Our around town stuff is far flatter than what you have out there, so the lower numbers make sense.

          I wish they'd make the fuel meters standard in every car.  What we really need is a bill forcing the meter in every new car just like we force seat belts.  

  •  Fantastic stuff. I'm struggling to (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Disillusioned, mijita, WisVoter, Fabian, BYw

    figure out where some of my power goes...I use less than average, but I feel like I can do more. I also wonder if similar technology can be applied to gas. Right now I get feedback once a month on gas usage, but it would help to have more real-time info to fine tune my programmable thermostat. And to know how much gas it takes to cooks a pot of pasta.

    Visit Northern Word, a writing, photo and travel blog.

    by decembersue on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 07:28:16 AM PST

  •  ok one small snark (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Given how power hungry iPhones can be, I'm amused at the notion of having an iPhone app that will call you if you leave the outside lights on...

    Great Diary!

    A left-of-center blow-harded member of the goose-stepping blog-stapo since 2004.

    by floundericiousMI on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 07:34:49 AM PST

  •  I think this is a good idea, but... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ladybug53, filby

    the one thing that truly would be better than all the solar panel and wind turbines combined would be giving the average consumer a better understanding of electrical power.

    If more people understood of how their appliances were actually powered, and which ones used the most energy, they'd know how to use them more efficiently.

    They know, for example, that using a clothesline to dry clothes would save more power than not using a dryer, but that replacing light bulbs with CF's could save as much over the same amount of time.

  •  Water usage... (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Odysseus, by foot, WisVoter, kurt, imchange

    For us in Colorado, the majority of our precious water is used to keep our Kentucky Bluegrass green.  One could argue the merits of even having this in our yard, but wouldn't it be great if the same feedback loop existed for this?

    1. Rain gages on a per-neighborhood could be installed and connected to the Internet and put into Google.  This can be checked against official regional data to make sure somebody isn't gaming the system.
    1. This information is used to predict how much water show be put on the lawn and when.
    1. The user can then map out the water need and usage.
    1. The automatic sprinkler system could also be replaced by an Internet programmable system.  As of a couple of years ago, these didn't exist.  Which is a shame.
    1. The user can then program the watering cycle based upon water needed rather than pre-set times.  The system would also automatically shut-off when it rains.  The user can also make adjustments for areas that seem to retain water vs. areas that are dry.

    I bet this system could save hundreds of acre-feet of water a year.

    The day has come, our time is now...

    by RichM on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 07:42:37 AM PST

  •  I resisted reading this (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Disillusioned, WisVoter

    diary, because I'm just not a technology geek, but this idea is the shiznitz.

    Can't wait to get one of those monitoring devices!

    Never get the mothers too angry.

    by pvlb on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 07:45:28 AM PST

  •  Love this idea (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Odysseus, Disillusioned, WisVoter, BYw, iBlue

    President Obama was laughed at by the right for his comments about making sure our tires were inflated properly to save gas, but what our Grandparents in the depression learned and tried to pass to us is that old Waste not, want not...A penny saved is a penny earned, etc.
    So our mantra should be REDUCE, Reuse, Recycle for absolutely everything.
    Oh, and plant a Victory Garden!

  •  By analogy, the best way to lose weight (4+ / 0-)

    is to write down everything you eat, every day.

    That gives you control and the power to choose.

    "Seeing our planet as a whole, enables one to see our planet as a whole" - Tad Daley

    by Bill White on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 07:51:43 AM PST

  •  Nice diary.. but.. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mijita, ladybug53

    I'm afraid the idea that we can solve our energy problems (climate change, sustainability) issues without making lifestyle adjustments is simply not true.

    We are going to have to change.

    Still, every little bit counts.

  •  It sounds like a great device (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Odysseus, ladybug53, fhcec, chemicalresult

    and I will no doubt get it.  

    I guess I'm a bit of a wet blanket though.  People's attitudes are such that the 25% of us who are trying hard already will use it to eek out a tiny bit more savings and the vast majority will not.

    Want to save energy?  Make it illegal for Rental units to cover the cost of utilities in the rent agreement.  I'm a biology student at Wayne State University and I have these discussions with people all the time about turning down their thermostat a little.  I constantly get responses that boil down to:  "It doesn't cost me anything so it's not my problem".  And THESE are biology students.  One of my co-workers who was a biologist when we were both in the auto industry got this astonished/disgusted look on her face when I suggested buying an off road vehicle wasn't good for the environment.  She said, "If they want me to conserve then they'll have to fix the problem why should I give up anything?"  I asked her who 'they' is and said isn't it 'we'?  She just rolled her eyes and walked off.

    We're all one heartbeat away from Forever.

    by KS Rose on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 07:55:01 AM PST

    •  recommended for trying! (0+ / 0-)

      Like you, I wonder at this attitude...

    •  you didn't get it (0+ / 0-)

      the device in the post will save you money, it is your money, concrete money, not everyone else. It is not about other.  

    •  bad idea on the rental units (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Kestrel228, Tonedevil

      Apartments are one of the hardest places to make more efficient. The renter usually has no control over system efficiency.
      My 3rd floor apt. has a 5-10 degree difference b/w floor and ceiling in the winter. Why? B/c there is empty retail space below me. Eight years ago when the building was converted to low rent apartments the only consideration was immediate cost. Cost to Own? What's That? No storm windows, poor insulation with incomplete coverage along the outside wall.
      I bought a programmable thermostat and had them put it in. They messed up so when summer came around it didn't turn on the air conditioner. I called and instead of fixing the install they threw it out and put the old one back in.
      Wayne State College, Wayne, Wayne County, Nebraska.
      I was in Bowen Hall. In the winter you could explode a pop by putting it in the window. Should the students have to pay just to keep warm? Without better building codes, that kind of ignore the end user construction is the norm. As my current apartment shows.

      •  When you control the thermostat (0+ / 0-)

        you should have to pay.  You're paying anyway, they just fix it into the rent.  It's not like the landlord is cutting his profit and being nice to you to keep you warm.  That amount is calculated into the rent and dispersed over every unit which takes away the incentive on a person by person level to keep it low.  It also cuts the incentive for the landlord to turn up the heat because he doesn't have to suffer and he does have to pay.  If you're paying for the heat then it's less disadvantageous for the landlord to turn it up.

        We're all one heartbeat away from Forever.

        by KS Rose on Sun Feb 15, 2009 at 08:48:37 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Here is another link (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    AllisonInSeattle, filby

    that will show a good estimate of what our electrical use is.  It also shows how to convert kwh to watts, ect. Electric use

  •  It would help others like me, slow on the (0+ / 0-)

    uptake if you stated upfront what the IT is that will save us so much.

    I had to plough through this dense and complex diary twice before i discovered i could save the world by turning off the lights.

    AT least I think that is the point of all this euphoric   giddiness.

    •  It helps consumers choose to reduce... (0+ / 0-)

      energy use by providing information. It reminds me of those signs that you see while driving that display the speed your car is going. People who see a high number usually slow down.

      "The eyes of the future are looking back at us and they are praying for us to see beyond our own time." - Terry Tempest Williams

      by your neighbor on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 12:14:39 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  So you're saying... (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mijita, WisVoter, Tonedevil, ccmask

    I shouldn't leave the door to my fridge open to cool the house?

    GOP - GOt nuthin' and Proud!

    by president raygun on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 08:06:16 AM PST

  •  Energy conservation is it! (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mijita, G2geek, Fiona West

    I managed to reduce the energy consumption of a house built in 1880 by 60%. And I spent a lot of electricity before the changes. A combination of smarter heating, a heat pump, insulation and better heating elements did the trick.

    Yes, conserving energy (for instance by not driving gas guzzlers) is an excellent interim step, as we look for alternative sources of clean energy.

    We will restore science to its rightful place.

    by SteinL on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 08:09:07 AM PST

  •  the good news (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mijita, fhcec, chemicalresult, filby, imchange

    is that americans are so astoundingly wasteful as a rule that there is a lot of easy fluff to cut out of things before we get to the hard choices that require real radical rethinking of our "way of life." same deal with water conservation, the first cuts are the easiest.

    looks like an interesting program.

    surf putah, your friendly neighborhood central valley samizdat

    by wu ming on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 08:16:47 AM PST

  •  Here in Florida, Progress Energy raised (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    raines, AllisonInSeattle

    their rates 25% yesterday.  Friends of mine saw their bill jump $44 bucks yesterday.  Imagine raising your product 25% in a stressed out economy?  Thanks for this diary.  I eagerly await my smart meter.

    WalMart: The sorrow of poor quality lingers on long after the joy of low prices has been forgotten.

    by ccmask on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 08:20:09 AM PST

  •  Damn that's cool (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Fiona West

    I've been wishing that utilities were required to show real-time power generation and the demand forecast for all consumers, as well as the fuel/generation mix anticipated.

    That'd make it a lot easier to decide when to use electricity.

    Of course, we wouldn't necessarily have that in a device sitting on the kitchen counter, if it existed ... it'd probably be a web page.

    Now, Google's doing an end-around that, with the release of data for third-party use, is absolutely breathtaking.

    Can't wait to get my hands on one of these things.

  •  Fiat Eco-Drive (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mijita, G2geek, Fiona West

    Fiat and Chrysler are chasing a major stock swap. Chrysler gives up shares and gets Fiat cars and technology.

    What sort of technology? One item is awfully similar to the idea in this diary:

    Fiat Eco-Drive

    -2.38 -4.87: There are no nationalists in a global financial meltdown

    by grapes on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 08:23:42 AM PST

  •  I saw a Prius with the plates "GD4ERTH" or (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    something along those lines.  I wanted to ask the owner "can you please explain exactly what is good for the Earth about this vehicle?" because the answer is, of course, nothing.  Not to be smug, but even the shoes I wear on my feet when I choose walking over driving are not "good for the Earth".  The owner of this vehicle is probably driving more than they were before its purchase, believing that every mile is somehow "good for the Earth".  This is the mentality we have to get over, people!  Conservation is the absolute lowest hanging fruit on the way to actually being "not as bad for the Earth".

    •  how do you know this: (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Tonedevil, tommymet

      The owner of this vehicle is probably driving more than they were before its purchase, believing that every mile is somehow "good for the Earth"?

      If he drive the same, as I do (why would you drive more? you go to work, shopping, and vacation and party , just the same! you don't wander around just because it is a Prius), and because the prius use less oil and emit less C02, then it is clearly better for the earth. Simple as that.

  •  CFL gripe (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I bought a bunch of CFLs from Costco and Orchard Hardware.

    They are all giving out after a couple of months when I was promised years of lasting.

    Anyone else have this complaint?

    With the last set I bought I have kept the receipt and will return them if they poop out too soon.

    •  Sounds like you have bad electrical wiring (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      That's a typical cause of the bulbs giving out early.

    •  Most CFLs I have tried (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      navajo, G2geek

      burned out in just a few months of use.  Some within days.  No it is not bad wiring, it is lousy quality.  Name brands like GE and Philips are barely more reliable than no-name CFLs.  No more CFLs for me, I've wasted enough $$.  

    •  Never had any problem with my CFLs (0+ / 0-)

      almost all of which came from CostCo.  My housemate and I changed over to CFLs two years ago and we're still on the CFLs that we put in at that time.

    •  Don't give up (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      navajo, AllisonInSeattle

      You can't use a CFL in a circuit with a dimmer switch, it will kill them in a few months.

      I've had CFL's in my home for more than ten years, never had one burn out, but I bought these a long time ago, obviously.

      Stay away from GE bulbs, they never recovered from the stock losses of 2001 and have been in cost cutting mode ever since.

      It's possible the new "curly" bulbs are inferior, they certainly don't cost nearly as much as the ones I bought ten years ago.

      Nothing can now be believed which is seen in a newspaper. Truth itself becomes suspicious by being put into that polluted vehicle. Thomas Jefferson 6/11/1807

      by Patriot4peace on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 12:57:14 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Very Cool but Ease Back (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Ignacio Magaloni, chapter1

    This just the front end, the back end hardware, the Smart meter still needs to be installed.  And Google will not be the only one with something like this.  Google is big and flashy,  and it couldbe the best solution, but they are hardly innovators in this area.

    They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety. -Benjamin Franklin

    by Gangster Octopus on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 08:52:10 AM PST

    •  Actually, Google brings a bit more to the table (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      WisVoter, fhcec

      Your points are well taken-- certainly the Smart meter does need to be installed-- but Google brings more than just size and flashiness (and recognizable brand name).

      This announcement indicates Google will provide for free all the backend infrastructure necessary to store and analyze all this information, and will provide that data for free to third parties (presumably with the permission of the utility customer who owns it.)  If you were designing a large-scale nationwide network of datacenters/software to do all this, how much would it cost?

      Plus, don't underestimate the ability of the Google brand to attract app developers, consumers, and possibly even hardware developers.

      One downside I can see is that they will probably suck the oxygen away from potential competitors.  Who wants to build or fund something that will compete with Google?

      •  I'm not worried about Google sucking the air (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        When it comes to the energy sector they are certainly capable, but they are by no means the Big Dog.

        I am a big advocate of SmartGrids and energy efficiency, so I clearly welcome this, I just think the timeline in the first paragraph is overly optimistic.

        They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety. -Benjamin Franklin

        by Gangster Octopus on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 09:34:20 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Why do you think timeline is overly optimistic? (0+ / 0-)

          (You probably know more than me, just asking.)  Seems to me that with so many similar things already out there-- e.g., Powercost Monitor, tendril, greenbox, Plogg, -- it shouldn't be too tough to adopt something to meet Google's standards.  So I'd (very naively) guess devices like this will be available near the end of this year, probably earlier.  That would give them a year to achieve significant penetration (helped on by subsidies, and growing awareness of climate issues).

          •  The meters simply are not in place (0+ / 0-)

            That is the problem.  Many utilites are putting the meters in, but it takes time.

            They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety. -Benjamin Franklin

            by Gangster Octopus on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 11:48:08 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Ah, but why depend on utilities? (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              About two years ago I bought a PowerCostMonitor, (cost $30 after utility subsidies; otherwise would have been around $140), installed it myself in half an hour (and I am not very good with anything remotely related to hardware).

              This measured my whole-house use, and transmitted it wirelessly to a monitor sitting in my kitchen.

              My hope is that within six months, we'll have similar devices just like that, except they'll transmit straight to Google.  (Perhaps caching data until I turn my computer on, or via a device that plugs straight into my router, or whatever.)

              So this announcement also takes utilities out of the picture-- they don't install, they don't get veto power, the only thing they might do is subsidize :)  

              Installation need not be complicated.  Remaining obstacles are 1) lack of devices like those mentioned, 2) lack of customer acceptance.  I'm not at all worried about the second (look at comments on this diary), and not so worried about the first either.

              •  the devil is why do you have to transmit to (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                google? can you just use RF or bluetooth to transfer to a software on the PC in the room?

                •  Yes, that's certainly feasible (0+ / 0-)

                  and many folks concerned about their privacy will probably prefer to do exactly that.  And probably, someone will make a device to support this.

                  But their data will not be archived and they will miss out on the social applications (trying to out-conserve their friends) which can actually be a large motivation.

                  Also-- depending on business models of software developers-- they may not be able to take advantage of third party apps (e.g., those that analyze use and suggest efficiency alternatives).

                  Google's business model in this case and many others appears to charge a small amount of privacy in return for value-added services.  That's worth it for some people (I'd argue most), but not for others.  (Just like all but a few of us will use customer loyalty cards tell our supermarkets exactly what we buy each week in order to get 25 cents off on one or two items.)

                  •  i see (0+ / 0-)

                    sure there will be the added services like you said and that will be a boon for Google, saying selling energy related products and services. But you fail to mention the real motive behind Google's move. Imagine the power of holding the entire energy consumption map of the US in details. That is incredibly powerful. And that information is maybe of national security matter.

                    Think of the entire airspace map of the US.

                    This kind of project should be better started by the gov and they can do it. Granted, they are slow and not as smart as google. But nothing prevent google from doing this.

  •  Stimulus has money for 40 million smart meters (6+ / 0-)

    •Jump-starting the transformation to a bigger, better, smarter grid. The upfront investments and reforms in modernizing our nation’s electricity grid will result in more than 3,000 miles of new or modernized transmission lines and 40 million "Smart Meters" in American homes.

    It's part of the electrical grid funding.

    So this is going to happen, and you may not even have to pay for the box!

  •  My apartment has been a lot warmer (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    G2geek, ladybug53

    since I moved the fan from my bedroom into the hallway.  I have the heater on at a MUCH lower temperature now.

    •  fans are good in the winter.... (4+ / 0-)

      Typical California setup: heater in the hallway, cold bedrooms.

      Put a fan in the bedroom door, blowing air out into the hallway.  This will suck cold air out at the floor level and bring warm air in at the ceiling level, and the air turnover will warm up the room nicely.  Enabling the use of much lower settings for the household heat.  

  •  Yes, but he's a happy drunk n/t (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
  •  This is SO exciting! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    As a former electrical and software engineer, and  a current environmental enthusiast, this is music to my ears.

    Thanks for sharing the fantastic news. And good luck with your app; it sounds like a winner!

    •  And when you become rich and famous on it, (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      don't forget the little people. Scholarships to Netroots Nation, an emergency fund for unemployed Kossacks -- I'm sure we can come up with some virtuous ways to help you spread that wealth around. :)

  •  What are you talking about?... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Ignacio Magaloni, G2geek

    "The hardware to actually measure your electricity use doesn't exist yet"

    Of course it does, how the hell do you think the electric company knows what to BILL YOU. It's called the electric meter.

    Many have been converted to remote reporting, so the company doesn't have to send someone to "read the meter" anymore. The tech and cost is not a big deal. A sensor would be clipped around the main powerline going into your breaker panel, and have some manner of connection to your computer, router, whatever.

    A simpler way to accomplish this would be for the Obama government under the "smart grid" shit could MANDATE the electric companies to implemnt this function. After all, they want people to conserve and especially shift usage to off-peak hours. This would be a good tool.

    Whatever the device cost is, mandating it and mass producing it would get the ocst to a minimum quickly.

    A one plug at a time device... the "Kill-a-Watt" is only $19, is quite educational as well.

  •  Many of us need to also take back our (5+ / 0-)

    local utilities which were sold off to conglomerates in the 80's by Reagan republicans.

    The idea that a "for profit" utility will manage what used to be public utilities for our benefit, has been disproven over and over.

    The biggest threat to America is not communism, it's moving America toward a fascist theocracy... -- Frank Zappa

    by NCrefugee on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 09:36:04 AM PST

  •  Most or all power companies already take meter (5+ / 0-)

    readings via RF. Why can't we just demand access to to that signal (and hook it up to our home PC)? Then we wouldn't even need an internet connection.

    Member, The Angry Left.

    by nosleep4u on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 09:51:29 AM PST

  •  Still need feedback for natural gas appliances. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    G2geek, imchange, axel000

    My furnace, water heater, clothes dryer and range all use gas - the utility bill in the winter for gas exceeds that of electricity.

    Some sort of combined dashboard on all energy usage would be helpful.

  •  I wish I trusted Google enough to join in... (4+ / 0-)

    This is such a wonderful idea, I only wish I didn't think Google's "do no evil" motto wasn't complete bullshit.

    More times than has been necessary to prove the point, Google has shown that their motto is more about marketing than about the way they actually handle and (fail to) respect personal data or any serious concerns for privacy and security.

    I just don't trust them enough to let them have any of my personal data.  I'll wait for a solution that plugs into my circuit panel, contains an embedded web server, and connects by WiFi to my home network.  There's really no need for the particulars of my power consumption to ever be transmitted outside of my home.

    •  Bingo! exactly. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      AllisonInSeattle, BachFan, imchange

      Do we really want The Google knowing so much about the details of our daily lives...?

      Hell no.

      My last electric bill was 108 KWH for the month, or 3.6 KWH per day.  I did that with the aid of a few Kill-a-Watt meters (about $25 each) and some ingenuity (built my own fridge/freezer system, for one thing).  

      Re. your solution for a device that connects to your home network:  exactly.  My colleagues could develop something like that pretty easily, and I'm going to start pushing the idea after we get our current project further along (there'll be news when there's news:-).

      If people want to volunteer for Google to watch them like ants in an ant farm, fine, whatever, it's all about consenting adults.  But there need to be powerful options for conservation that don't entail living in a glass cage.

  •  I hate to be a doomsayer but..... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    G2geek, BachFan, Boisepoet

    This is hitting on one of the big challenges that the "green industry" needs to tackle before any real improvement can be made.  It is far more effective to have a small improvement that is adopted by a large number of people, than it is to have big improvements that only a small number of committed people are going to make.  For instance it would be far better for out environment to replace all the SUV and cars that get under 20 mpg with vehicles that average over 20 mpg than it would be to sell a relatively small numbers of electric or hybrid cars.  The problem is how do you convince the masses that the need to make that small change?  Most Americans can't be bothered to do anything if it is not free, automatic, and/or mandatory.  For instance my community offers free, easy, but voluntary waste recycling and I bet less that 5% of house holds do it.  My family is the only one on our block the recycles.  Until we can get the "Average Joes" on board with at least the small, easy, things we will never make any significant improvements

    "I think media should be abolished from, uh, you know, reporting."--Joe the P.

    by tkwasny on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 10:07:03 AM PST

    •  That's where the gov can help by creating pain. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mijita, G2geek

      Charge for garbage but credit for recycle.

      I know Vancouver, WA was running a program like that, but haven't been able to find the results and lost contact with the person I know who was involved. Anyone else know about that?

      "No his mind is not for rent, to any god or government. Always hopeful yet discontent, he knows changes aren't permanent. But change is." -Neil Peart

      by Boisepoet on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 11:07:59 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  never underestimate the power of the media & (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      right wing kooks to convince people that global climate change is just a big myth cooked up to that green companies can make money.  pretty amazing.  i used to look in on a global warming blog on the Discovery tv website.  i was amazed that the majority of posters were screeching about how 1) there is no global warming, 2) there is warming, but it's all due to natural earth cycles, and man has nothing to do with it.

      Many peeps are heavily invested in a lifestyle that they believe they would have to change just too much to be green, even if unconsciously.  Hence, the "inconvenient truth."

      The chinks are already falling out of their walls, though, and with an administration that knows how serious this is, soon they will have to "tear down [those] walls!" And more and more, you don't have to lose much of your lifestyle, anyway.

    •  Small things can be done by individuals (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Kestrel228, ladybug53, imchange

      I participated in a project through my church a few years back.  We bought thousands of CFL bulbs and then went to our neighborhood's senior population (targeting especially people receiving Meals on Wheels) and changed out all their ceiling light fixture bulbs.  We also switched out the lamp lights for any that wanted us to do so.

      It was a dual good -- reducing energy usage and at the same time, put in a much longer life bulb in a location where it's very hard for an elderly or disabled person to change out their bulbs.

      Will it save the world?  No.  But I believe doing what go we can where we can will make a huge difference in the end.

      That said, I ALSO want more green power.

      the third eye does not weep. it knows. Political compass: -9.75 / -8.72

      by mijita on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 03:45:06 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  This is great news, user friendly, practical, (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    affordable and will just add more revenue to Google's success, IMHO.  Technology to the rescue!!

    Thanks for this diary.  Always great to hear good news like this for our future.

    •  A couple of concerns... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      G2geek, ladybug53, Calamity Jean

      (1) Privacy. Big Brother might just want to know who is using a lot of energy, for example, for home grown marajuana.

      (2) Elders/the disabled- a lot of disabled folks have huge energy draws. Old folks need to heat their houses in winter.

      (3) Landlords. Landlord rents an insufficiently insulated house with old appliances and insists the tenant pay the utility bill (normal around where I live) The tenant has little ability to reduce energy use. The landlord has no incentive- the tenant pays the bill.

  •  Probably wouldn't help us (0+ / 0-)

    We're already pretty far below the average. But I suppose we might be surprised.

    Nevertheless, every bit helps.

  •  I've used a similar, more limited device (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    AllisonInSeattle, ladybug53

    I have a "centameter" from which has fewer features than I'd like (it is only a real-time display of electricity usage, and does not accumulate information for comparative analysis) but still has been helpful - the habits of those family members who used to leave lights and appliances on more often have certainly improved, and they prefer to see they're wasting power by glancing at  a little display, rather than hear nagging from me. :)

  •  Google is what I hoped to be when I went into (0+ / 0-)

    internet consulting 8 years ago.

    Bummer for me, it didn't work out.

    But I'm glad somebody is doing it.

    I don't know what to say.

    by UntimelyRippd on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 10:33:59 AM PST

  •  I already have a device like that, (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Massman, iBlue, The Creator

    it's called my brain.
     I don't see how buying another gadget will help me decrease my energy use.  I already don't leave on an outside light, don't use a dryer (except rarely, to partly dry sheets), and use an automatic  dishwasher sparingly.  Heck, I even use "solar power" (the sun) to dry my hair at least 8 months out of the year so I don't waste electricity of a hair dryer.
     If other people need a toy to get them to conserve, fine.  But whatever happened to old fashioned common sense to save energy, something my parents' families used during the Depression/WWII eras?

    My Karma just ran over your Dogma

    by FoundingFatherDAR on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 10:41:15 AM PST

  •  Solar panels = surrender panels.. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    ...Q:  Which wingnut said that?

    A:  The fake one that lampoons Republicans so well, they should start stealing talking points from him:  Steven Colbert.

    "The stimulus package, which I don't support, had better work."-Stephen Colbert

    by wyvern on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 10:47:18 AM PST

  •  how to eliminate vampire loads? (0+ / 0-)

    does plugging a bunch of appliances into a power strip save electricity while a device is turned off on its own, or is it dependent upon shutting the strip off?

    should appliances like a refrigerator and microwave be plugged into a power strip?

    or is there some other device that would better reduce power consumption?


    If you aren't outraged, you are an idiot

    by indefinitelee on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 11:04:14 AM PST

    •  you'd have to shut the strip off (5+ / 0-) prevent the vampire draw.

      while a strip is certainly more convenient than unplugging a bunch of individual appliances, what would really be great would be some simple home automation system that kills power to selected outlets during certain hours (you'd want a local override at the recepticle of course).

      actually, such a device already exists!

      the problem is that these type of components are expensive, not widely available, and use competing communication protocols (X10, Insteon, Zigbee, ZWave, etc).

      "I don't think they're going to be any more successful in 2010 or 2012."
      -Yes On 8 co-manager

      by jethropalerobber on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 11:32:59 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  danger: not your fridge! (4+ / 0-)

      The fridge needs to be able to keep a consistent internal temperature.  If you turn off power to the fridge, your food will go bad in subtle ways you won't notice until you're glued to the toilet with the 3-day diarrhea.  

      Better solution for fridges is to replace an inefficient one with a more efficient one.  

      Other stuff however, yes, put it on power strips.

      •  Good, albeit (0+ / 0-)

        obvious, points.

        Moreoever, you will not be able to safely use a refrigerator on either an extension cord or a $2.00 Costco power strip anyway - it will melt it in no time.  Totally unsafe.

        Fridges, and most moderately sized air conditioning units, belong plugged directly into the wall on their own 15 amp circuit.

        Say it with me: President Barack Obama

        by JT88 on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 07:49:18 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Put your printers on power strips (0+ / 0-)

      Computers, or turn off manually.


      Everything that guzzles energy to maintain a "ready-state" while it's turned off, and that's more stuff than you might expect.

      I have 2 printers on power strips, AND I manually unplug them, and keep a fax plugged into that strip as well. The unplugging is an even BETTER savings -- you don't print a page unless you really need it. Not on a whim.

      Be good to each other. It matters.

      by AllisonInSeattle on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 05:29:55 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Comparing the US and Japan is absurd. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JT88, AllisonInSeattle

    They have a population density 5 times as high as California's. It's far easier for them to conserve energy when they can all walk to work and live in high rises. If the majority of the US lived like New Yorkers, we'd all conserve a lot more energy too.

  •  Not all utilities vary their hourly rate for (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    electricity based on peak load hours, this needs to be mandated at the federal level.  Off peak rates should be dramatically less than peak, that way the public can run their dryers late evening and save money, while also helping the grid by reducing peak demand.


    Government for the people, by the people

    by axel000 on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 11:26:31 AM PST

  •  stop the wasteful practice of flood lighting bldg (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    AllisonInSeattle, G2geek, shenderson

    nationally we could save huge amounts of electricity if we stopped shining huge flood lights on buildings at night.

    there is no reason to light up the whole downtown. how many tons of coal could we stop burning if we turned off all these useless lights?

  •  I got a question. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    polar bear

    I have a laptop that only gets use when I go out of town or lose power at home. It is always plugged to
    keep the battery charged.

    Is there a better plan that won't kill the Battery
    or the puter?

  •  I like this prospect, BUT.... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    we have seen the enemy and it is us. Our lazy consumer culture wouldn't conserve willingly even if they knew how much energy they wasted and you put it right in front of their face, just like many people know SUVs waste gas yet they still buy them as well as your poor people who don't pay attention to this stuff and don't recycle and throw everything away.

    We need conservation laws and penalties and fines to get people out of the mindset that Reagan put them in("You can consume all you want because you're an American unlike that evil empire and that is what makes America great.").

    There's a great swath who is not going to listen to the calls of the future; they're not going to listen to whomever is conserving more energy and saving money; some will; most won't. Relying on people to do the smart thing will be a true disappointment, which is why we need concentrated thermal solar energy(24 hours that's not intermittent which is here) among geothermal and wind to change our electric grid, period.

    Our society is not responsible; our citizens are lazy and only laws and penalties will put the right kind of pressure on them to act while we change our electric grid so that they are using clean sources of energy without them knowing it and without relying on them to sacrifice, because the unwashed uneducated masses are simply not going to do it willingly and so ti doesn't matter who is responsible and conserves unless we do this this way.

    Pro Life??? Conservatives want live babies so they can raise them to be dead soldiers!- George Carlin

    by priceman on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 12:16:39 PM PST

    •  hardly. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      When cars are equipped with MPG meters, people change their driving habits, even if they are not conservation-oriented.  They can see the relationship between MPG and their actual costs of driving and that does the trick.  

      In general, when people have feedback about energy usage, they conserve, just to save money.  

      •  If that were true (0+ / 0-)

        the big 3 wouldn't have a problem, and they wouldn't of been able to sell enough gas guzzlers till they got to the breaking point, keeping in mind I'm talking about the CEOs and not the unions who are not responsible for those decisions. People knew SUVs wasted gas and still bought them, more people in red states, but that goes to the point as states with better conservation laws are more effective in getting people to demand MPG meters thus causing a demand in that market fro cars with information like that which would have already made the complete difference if that alone was going to do it.

        I guess that's why Jimmy Carter is still ridiculed when the information was out there when he was president and he tried to warn people about conservation and showed them the info, yet they still didn't listen.

        I guess that's why there are public ad campaigns out there still telling people to drive less. Gas prices being high for so long was the sole reason people drove less last summer. It's true that MPG meters will likely cause more people to drive less, but assumptions that just putting the info in front of their face will do the trick by itself is refuted by history, even recent history. With gas being over $4 a gallon for so long, why are people not more vocal on energy independence instead of just happy gas is cheaper? Things are getting better as big business is now at least acting like they are going green, but that goes to the adage of a capitalist businessman selling the public a noose to hang himself if he thinks he can make a profit off of it.

        Conservation laws and clean air standards are the only way to force the public to act like they are doing now in California with the Smog check law which proves my point. Blind faith that people will educate themselves in our country if given the information even though it saves them money won't be effective like laws that pressure them to. If saving money was on their minds they would of been more concerned about the gas crunch of the seventies where there were long lines as the effects of peak oil took shape.

        I'm all for the prospects in this diary, but without conservation laws and penalties to back them up, people will most likely disappoint. that's all I'm saying.

        Pro Life??? Conservatives want live babies so they can raise them to be dead soldiers!- George Carlin

        by priceman on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 02:05:09 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  oh i'm certainly in agreement about laws.... (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          AllisonInSeattle, ladybug53

          ...and I have a few ideas for sustainability laws that would probably make most people around here freak out.  

          As for MPG meters, if Detroit put those on their gas guzzlers, yes, people would buy far fewer gas guzzlers.  Same with home appliances and household electric & gas usage generally.  

          Same with having more than two kids and having to bid on Ebay for the extra food, water, and energy rations of some couple who decide to have one or no kids and put their surplus rations up for bid.  

          Plenty more where that idea came from...

          •  Well then we are mostly in agreement (0+ / 0-)

            Indeed, though there will still be a substantial portion of people that will still ignore those readings(if they have to pay more for them), I would rather have laws outlawing gas guzzlers in the first place, but I do think that is a good measure as well, to stem the lazy consumer tide until we can halt the production of inefficient cars and appliances to try to stem the demand towards energy efficiency, until we can regulate it into complete existence to get to the level we need to be at stated in this diary.

            I live in TX and I get frustrated with the mindset of many of whom I speak around me, so my faith in the general public might be a little more manic, I understand.

            Pro Life??? Conservatives want live babies so they can raise them to be dead soldiers!- George Carlin

            by priceman on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 03:18:41 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  This idea will appeal to a certain percentage (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              of people. If it's 20%, good. If 60%, good. If 5%, good.

              Dealing with everyone else can be a separate issue.

              One commenter here is leaving a laptop plugged in 24/7, tho not using it "in case they go out of town". They asked was there a better way to do this? A lot of people have a lot of questions, and this feedback idea could help them.

              Be good to each other. It matters.

              by AllisonInSeattle on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 05:44:11 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  It will and I am happy about that (0+ / 0-)

                I just get frustrated that everyone who is not like that guy who leaves his laptop plugged in 24/7 in case they go out of town, their work will be in vain, because it's easier for the masses to ignore this information because let's face it, it takes sacrifice and everyone should be pressured through law to sacrifice whether they want to get on board or not. That's what government is for and our government and government around the world will have to act accordingly with the strategy in this diary of conservation.

                Pro Life??? Conservatives want live babies so they can raise them to be dead soldiers!- George Carlin

                by priceman on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 06:08:50 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  I misunderstood something.... (0+ / 0-)

                  it's good that you can answer that guy's question and people like him at least willing to act, so I do have to give him credit and this diary for the information for everyone who has questions and you for answering his question. I am addressing the many who are not even curious and won't ask the questions because they don't' care and are too comfortable with their lifestyle that was sold to them as sustainable when it is not.

                  Pro Life??? Conservatives want live babies so they can raise them to be dead soldiers!- George Carlin

                  by priceman on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 06:13:55 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

            •  hell yeah. (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              Outlaw gas guzzlers, and outlaw sprawl development, and forcibly rezone every existing sprawl such that all houses on corners at intersections are immediately zoned for multiuse light commercial.  

              Charge for municipal solid waste disposal by the pound (easy to do: barcodes on bins, and weight gauges on the lifts on the trucks).

              Override HOAs re. clotheslines and lawns, as well as solar and wind.  

              Forbid companies requiring their workers to come to an office when their jobs can be done via telecommute (disclosure: I build telecommuter infrastructure so I'll see an increase in biz from that).  

              But the most important one for preventing a climate catastrophe is to shut down all coal fired power plants worldwide and replace them with conservation, renewables, and nuclear.  

              And the most important one for preventing the rest of the ecological catastrophes that are lined up waiting for us, is the demand for equal rights for women worldwide, and universal access to contraception worldwide, which will drop the birth rate by half on a voluntary basis.  Back this up with diplomatic and economic sanctions, and resource quarantines on countries that refuse to comply.  

              There's plenty more where that comes from.  

              •  You are on this! (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                I like all of your legal proposals and I hope you get the telecommuter infrastructure jobs that comes with requiring companies to let their employees telecommute as well and I believe you when you say there is plenty more where that comes from.

                Pro Life??? Conservatives want live babies so they can raise them to be dead soldiers!- George Carlin

                by priceman on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 06:51:19 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

          •  For the record (0+ / 0-)

            many GM vehicles, including their SUVS, have had MPG meters for well over a decade.  The "gas guzzlers," laden with upscale packaging and features to inflate their prices, almost certainly have had them since the late 90's.

            Now I'd wager you can't buy even their economy models without their basic digital info panel, which includes those meters.

            The problem is that they're not prominently displayed and you have to want to look at it to pull it up (as opposed to the outside Temperature).

            Say it with me: President Barack Obama

            by JT88 on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 08:03:24 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

  •  Raise utility prices to incentivize conservation (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    raines, AllisonInSeattle

    Raise utility prices to incentivize conservation... yes that is right. I'd love to see heavily tiered utility rates. Give everyone 15 kWh a day at a reasonable rate of say ~.20/kWh. Above that to about 30 kWh a day (than national average) make it .50/kWh. Above that how about something outrageous like $2.50/kWh.

    I can assure you this would do WAY more than all the lipstick on pig renewable programs that are "oh so sexy", and oh so stupid.

    I use 15 kWh a day which includes everything... heating/cooling/lights/refrigeration/computers etc and some surplus for that plug in car (once they make em).

    I design, maintain and install RE systems for a living and find incentive programs actually encourage people to put in overly large systems rather than changing their behavior and upgrading to higher efficiency first. I know conservation is a dirty word here in 'murica, it is long past time for us to change and consider our part in the mess we are facing.

    Sorry, but reality dictates we cannot spend ourselves out of debt, develop ourselves out of resource depletion, or "green" ourselves out of unsustainability. For us to survive we all must drastically cut our consumption and carbon footprint... I don't know of anyone doing that... most want the "mighty Obama" to "fix" everything for them.


  •  It's very possible to be very thrifty. (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mijita, BachFan, chapter1, imchange

    All you have to do is be aware.  Be cheap.  Be a minimalist.

    I average 67 KWhr/Month.  I average 2,500 miles/year on my car (which will be replaced with something more efficient when money becomes available).  And I don't live uncomfortably.  The only appliance always on is the refrigerator, which is only 12 years old.  Only 1 light is ever on.  My monitor and TV are flat panel LCD screens (the TV et with the backlight at 20%).  All of my lights are CF or LCD.  If it's hot out, I open the windows.  If it's cold, I roll up a towel and put it infront of the door to block drafts.  My landlord could probably lower my hear loss, but that's not gonna happen, and I live where it never snows, but it is possible, and easy once you get into the habit.

    Those who do not study history should not be permitted to make it.

    by trumpeter on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 12:47:46 PM PST

  •  oops--just turned off a forgotten light. :O). nt (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
  •  Thanks PB, (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    What I was really trying to ask is what happens if I just leave the laptop unplugged when not in use, will the memory get messed up? Do I need to take out the battery pack, if so then what happens at the next start up?

  •  Conservation should be priority one (0+ / 0-)

    The savings are immediate relative to increasing green power generation. When we had an oil embargo we put up with 55 mph speed limits on our highways. How about a pricing structure for energy which rewards conservation? If the average electrical energy use is about 600 kwh per month, price electricity at $.06 per kwh up to 300 kwh, $.12 per kwh up to 600 kwh and $.24 per kwh for anything over 600 kwh per month, or whatever schedule pays for the power generated and distributed. The electric power companies should install the smart power meters, as this is the first step to a smart grid and collect the data and make it available to you in real time online.

  •  With My Prius... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    AllisonInSeattle, Pinecone, eltee

    I can also gage road rage.  When I'm pissed, I get 29 MPG.  There it is in black and green!

    When I go to work listening to the Broadway channel on XM and ignore what other people are doing, I get 42 mpg.

    Feedback is incredibly functional!

    "(Our) stories are singular, but our destiny is shared, and a new dawn of American leadership is at hand."

    by Detroit Mark on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 01:40:35 PM PST

  •  Conservation is smart (0+ / 0-)

     I have solar panels in a stand alone system (not connected to the grid), and I HAVE to conserve. I try to use my electricity, that I produce, at the point of production (middle of the day, when panels are at there peak output) At night  I'm in conserve mode and try not to use all of the stored energy in my batteries.
    I use LEDs for my lighting, very efficient, up to 90% more efficient than incandescent, and 30 to 50% more efficient than CFLs. Plus they are more benign to the environment (CFLs contain mercury, amongst other toxins).
    Of course the weak part of my system is the storage batteries, with only 30% efficiencies, and chock full of toxins.

    Geese are but Geese tho' we may think 'em Swans; and Truth will be Truth tho' it sometimes prove mortifying and distasteful. Benjamin Franklin

    by winchelenator on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 01:49:02 PM PST

  •  Also interesting, simply comparing the energy use (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    AllisonInSeattle, shenderson

    by consumers to the energy use of their neighbors results in energy savings.

  •  Maybe we can even store some energy (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    88kathy, AllisonInSeattle

    Not chemically(battery tech), though, due to inevitable geopolitical dislocations, but in a way that is universally present:  gravity.  Pump water to a high place, like a water tower, and then let it fall into a deep well or tank, via a generator.  It's not a break-even system yet, but it saves the energy for those peak hours.  

    Better than batteries, but nowhere near as progressive as conservation.

    The world is calling for justice.

    by jcrit on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 02:14:24 PM PST

    •  I worked on a pumped storage facility (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      back in the 70s.  Used excess generating capacity (think of your car in very fast idle) at night to pump water to the top of a mountain.  Then, during day, when peak demand for electricity - drop it back down 700 feet or so and run through a generating turbine.

      Again - not near break-even, but used what would otherwise have been wasted energy.

      Was environmental pushback (big reservoir on top of mountain) - but was at least space and time limited, as compared to lots more CO2 in the air every day from another coal or oil fired power plant.

      •  smaller scale (0+ / 0-)

        We could build millions of small units using tanks.  And if they end up leaking, then no big thing.  Wind and solar farms should have a pumped storage facility.

        The world is calling for justice.

        by jcrit on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 07:06:03 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Not exactly new tech (0+ / 0-)

    Been in use BY THE UTILITY here for several years (higher $/kWH in peak times).

    The main difference between the 110th and the 111th: One less Bubble, One more Shaft...

    by grndrush on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 03:02:40 PM PST

  •  I wish people would stop using misleading info. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    And we are incredibly wasteful.  Western Europeans use barely half as much electricity as we do.  So it is possible to reduce our electricity use quite significantly without making significant sacrifices.

    This is a classic example of lying via statistics.  If you look at electricity consumption per capita per country, you get this (numbers represent watts per person)

    US: 1460
    Canada: 1910
    EU (general): 700

    So, sure, the EU in general uses half.  Now, shall we break that down a bit to see what countries in Europe (not just in the EU) actually use?

    Norway (not EU member): 2,812 Oops
    Sweden: 1,692 Oh dear
    Finland: 1,918 Oh my

    What drags the EU/European totals down isn't necessarily because they're wonderfully environmentally friendly; it's because you've got countries with mild climates that drag down the average, providing cover for countries with more extreme climates, such as that represented by much of the US and Canada where you need electricity to heat so you don't freeze to death, or electricity to keep things cool so you don't broil.

    Sure, there's no question that there's a lot of electricity that can be saved, but simplistic statements like that don't help, and solutions aren't always applicable to all situations.

    •  This is interesting (0+ / 0-)

      I wasn't aware of that breakdown.. ignorance (not lying) on my part.

      Do you have sources?

      Also, why is Scandavia so high.  Do they heat with electricity?  (In Norway, with all that oil?!)

      Also, not sure I buy the climate argument.  Note my graph above also includes line for excluding air conditioning, which still corresponds to much higher than EU.  And I can't believe we use that much on electric heat.

      •  I didn't assume malice (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        There are several reasons why northern countries use more.  Given as I live above the Arctic Circle...

        1.  A lot more juice is required for lighting.  Consider streetlights: at the latitude of Rome (41 North), during the longest night of the year (December 21st), the sun is up for 9 hours.  Assuming the lights come on at sunrise and turn off at sunset (which is a simplification, but we'll use it), that means the lights are on for 15 hours.

        At Stockholm, Helsinki, and Oslo, at the same time, the lights have to be on for 18 hours.  In Edmonton, Alberta, 18.5 hours.

        Now, at first blush you'd think this gets equaled out by the longer hours of daylight during the summer, and for streetlights you'd be right, but consider all other lighting (at home, work, school, etc).  A lot of that daylight during the summer at high latitudes is "wasted" because it's going on when people are sleeping, so you're not really offsetting the extra lighting required during the day during the winter when people are up and about.

        1.  There is a lot of electric heating, as well as the extra electricity required for water heaters and boilers and furnaces and heat traces and all the other things needed in cold climates to stop things from freezing.
        1.  When it's cold outside, people spend more time inside: watching TV, reading, playing videogames, whatever.  

        The US and Canada also have more climate in the middle because of a classic continental climate: cold in winter, hot in summer.  Most of the Western European countries don't have to deal with that because of a more moderate climate.  They don't need as much heating in winter and as much cooling in summer.

  •  Whiiiiiinnnnnneee!!!!!! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    But conservation is booooooorrrrriiiinnnngggg.

    Cool - you made the rec list.  If only that were the general reaction - starting back in the 70s.  Instead, conservation has been sneered at;  oooh, not sexy enough.

    That's not just stupidity.  It's insanity.

    I am become Man, the destroyer of worlds

    by tle on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 03:37:12 PM PST

  •  internet will greatly reduce transportation (0+ / 0-)

    needs.  We need to build out the internet as quickly as we can.

  •  I have a couple CFLs (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    One in the porch light, which I leave on overnight, this being the big city, and one being in the most used lamp in the family room.

    Otherwise, I prefer to use dimmers.

    When LEDs arrive, I'll start switching to them.

    CFLs require special recycling, most people don't know.

    I'm sure there will be a downside to LEDs too, but I don't think it will be poison mercury gas, which is being released every time a person tosses a CFL into the garbage and it gets crushed out at the curb.

    I haven't seen any studies on dimmers v. CFL, but I'm pretty sure that a 'dim bulb' can save quite a bit of energy.

    "Clearly, many inside this Nation's Government anticipated it. It was Mr. bush and his gang who chose to ignore them." [KO 12/18/08] And fuck Rick Warren.

    by eroded47095 on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 04:31:32 PM PST

    •  Sam's Club now carries LED bulbs (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      I was at Sam's Club the other day (no Costco around here, unfortunately) and noticed that they're now carrying LED Bulbs, although they only had them for spotlight, candle and lamp fixtures (i.e. no standard bulbs.) Having priced them on the internet before, they seemed to be pretty inexpensive too. I'm currently using CFL's nearly ever where in my house, but after my current allotment is gone, I'll be switching to LED.

      Btw, they make CFL's that will dim too, in case you didn't know already. It's also worth mentioning that many cities accept CFL bulbs in their recycling operation. Mine requires that I take them to one of several drop-off locations, but it's no problem, because I go there regularly to drop off other things anyway.

      Democrats -- Progress for the Working Class

      by rogun on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 05:50:34 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  if every CFL were broken and not cleaned (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      it still would be less mercury exposure than the extra coal burning to run incandescents would be producing.

      At least that's my understanding, per Joseph Kennedy.

  •  Just don't make it talk, please (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Kestrel228, shenderson

    I cannot explain how creepy and/or annoying I find some cars these days. And make it stop at some point, even if I haven't responded. I hate when I can't have a guest in my car without them knowing I need a oil change. /rant

    But I'm excited. It sounds very cool.

  •  How does the device know frig from dryer? (0+ / 0-)

    Missing link in my initial understanding. Mind you I haven't read the Google link yet, and am on the way....

    Be good to each other. It matters.

    by AllisonInSeattle on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 04:43:11 PM PST

    •  Signal-processing problem (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Speculation on my part, but...
      In the top graph, see the periodic wiggles (actually, probably a step wave) going up and down, up and down as the something turns on and off, once every few minutes.  That's the fridge.

      Then there's the large spike where the drier comes on.

      Different devices have different characteristic shapes.

      I'm not a signal-processing guy, but I do know there are decades of research into identifying characteristic waves-- like those made by an enemy submarine, or for speech recognition, or earthquake detection, or a host of other such problems.  I'd bet this detection problem is relatively straightforward by comparison.

    •  There are ways to characterize (0+ / 0-)

      electric demand based upon the inherent inductance or capacitance of the load. Things with motors have a different load characteristic than those with heating coils, filaments and electronic devices like TVs, radios, etc.

      Another way to determine load types is related directly to rise and fall times and amounts. Huge current draws would be clothes dryers, space heaters, water heaters.

      One other methodology is to have each device send a unique data tag or burst as it turns off and on [that's not what is happening here, but in the future I am sure many devices will have the capability].

  •  title (0+ / 0-)

    seems off. dunno its just something about it that rings .heh,heh.
    Time for bed,oh ya.

  •  does anyone know any weatherization programs (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    for low income people? we bought a house last year and the windows are shit and actually are not air tight, water enters when it rains, let alone what it means for our heating bill! our income was more than cut in half this year and we cannot afford to do the remodeling we were planning to do when we bought a fixer upper. i heard obama talk about money for 2 million residential houses for weatherization/energy efficiency but i don't know which agency to call about getting in on it. does anyone know any specifics??? oh, did i mention we have a baby on the way and the windows are causing a mold problem? i really need to do something about this!!! hopefully this isn't one of the programs that got cut today!!!!!!!!!!
    •  Check with your municipality or state (0+ / 0-)

      Google might be a good place to start first.

      If all else fails, contact Habitat for Humanity, and ask them if they're going to do programs like this. Get them thinking along those lines.

      If you find nothing, sounds like you need to find a way to do the windows with your "remodeling" money... saving in the summer, perhaps? Do a few at a time?

      Be good to each other. It matters.

      by AllisonInSeattle on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 05:48:52 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  there is no "remodeling money" (0+ / 0-)
        as i said, our income was cut in half. it's all i can do to pay the mortgage (note the "low income" designation in my comment). the windows will stay like that until this economy turns around or i can find some LOW INCOME assistance. in any case, i am asking for specific knowledge here as i am aware of the google tube thingy, thanks.
    •  home weatherization assistance program (0+ / 0-)

      is federally funded and operated by each state, usually through local community action agencies.  Each state has a web site where they will have information about contacting your local agency.  Same place can usually give you fuel assistance money too -- as long as your income is low enough to qualify for these services...

      •  ok, thanks, but do you know anything (0+ / 0-)
        about the "2 million private homes" to be made energy efficient, promised by obama when he spoke about the stimulus? is it still in the bill, how to qualify as a private residence, where to apply? (would it be the same "home weatherization assistance program" you mentioned?) i can't find any specifics online.
        •  yes, the same (0+ / 0-)

          every state government has an office that runs their HWAP and every part of each state has some sort of local agency (usually the same one that does fuel assistance, WIC, often Head Start, etc..).  

          Since you don't mention where you live, there's no way for me to guess which state program web site I should Google for, but it was pretty easy to find the main national site which has links to all state programs:


          •  i googld that too as well as cali and humboldt co (0+ / 0-)
            but couldn't find any reference to the obama stimulus' 2 million homes plan. and i can't find out if what he talked about is in the final bill and what the specifics are.
  •  already over 50% reduction (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    in my South Florida home.  Solar Hot Water, SEER 19 A/C (off completely from Nov-May), CFLs everywhere.  Doing this to reduce demand down enough to enable photovoltaics. Next steps - attic exhaust, sunshades on Southern and Western exposures,  more insulation, impact windows when the budget allows to keep the cool air in. So many things you can do....occupancy sensors, going to bed earlier...

  •  SoCal Edison swapped my old meter for a new (0+ / 0-)

    wireless unit... So the meter reader doesn't have to go around to the back of my house and face down my two adorable rat terriers.

    I would pay money for a PC app that can hack into the meter's wireless signal and record the daily/hourly usage.

    BushCheney Inc. - They lied to me, they lied to you, they lied to our troops.

    by jjohnjj on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 06:01:06 PM PST

  •  My Honda FIt... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    has a mpg screen that resets when you fill the tank. It instantly changed the way I drive. I now get over 40mpg just by changing how I drive, accelerate, the speed I drive, when I accelerate, etc. I would LOVE a meter for the house. yes please!

    The first thing we did is set our thermostats on timers so it goes down to 60 when we're out and heats back up to 65 right before we get home.

    Yay for energy conservation!

    The reason IS the season.

    by Pagan Pundit on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 06:23:23 PM PST

  •  Reason # 2,999 why Microsoft will be history (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    within the next 10 years.  IMHO Google together with the general public's growing acceptance of Linux and open source software spells trouble with a capital T for Microsoft just as China, Japan and Korea spelled trouble for General Motors.  

    Dreams have a way of betraying you when you use them to escape. Ask yourself why you dream what you dream.

    by brjzn on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 06:28:02 PM PST

  •  My electric bill more than doubled (0+ / 0-)

    in January vs. December.  I have no idea why, as I don't think my usage changed dramatically.  Could the power company jack rates up that much?

    I finally put in a signature!

    by Boris Godunov on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 06:44:27 PM PST

    •  I had a scare like that recently (0+ / 0-)

      My electric bill was crazy high and I didn't know why. The next month it was crazy low. Apparently the meter reader made some sort of error when he wrote the number down, and the next month it corrected itself.

      In a democracy, everyone is a politician. ~ Ehren Watada

      by Lefty Mama on Thu Feb 12, 2009 at 12:15:42 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Spot on with my own experience. (0+ / 0-)

    My father at my request bought me a power meter which happens to be called Kill-A-Watt (tm),  which despite it's goofy name works fine.  You plug it in series with your appliance or power bar and you can either 1) measure your instantaneous power or 2) record over time to give you a kilowatt-hr reading.  I've plugged it in to various appliances and found for instance, that my computer was drawing significant power even at night when it was not in use.  I've learned to manually turn off the LCD monitor and insure that the computer really is in standby-mode and not some other more power-hungry mode.   I'm not particular to this brand-name.  I'm sure there are others.  It can't monitor total house current because it needs to plugged in series with a 3-prong 120V connectors.    

  •  We cut our electrical consumption (0+ / 0-)

    by about 40% by going to all CFL lighting.

    The local grocery store sells 8 packs of 75W equiv CFLs for $10! Made by Sylvania, and they work very well.

    There's deals on e-bay too. I have candelabra bases on some of my fixtures, and got a great deal on e-bay for those.

  •  Outside Lights (0+ / 0-)

    " really, really ought to turn your outside lights off every night."  I'm as worried about global warming as anyone--heck, I've had panic attacks laying in bed thinking about it while trying to fall asleep at night.  But that's bad advice.  Any police officer in the country will tell you that outside lights are far better at crime prevention than any alarm system.  That said, I do use CFLs in my outside sockets, and as soon as LED lights come down to a semi-reasonable price I'll put those in instead.

    •  motion detectors (0+ / 0-)

      it's a much more effective crime deterrent to use motion detectors to turn on your outside lights whenever anyone approaches your home -- it alerts you to the issue right away and saves more than 95% of the energy.  You don't need to bother with outdoor CFL floods if you use motion detectors...

  •  Bookmarking for tomorrow... (0+ / 0-)

    Excellent diary, chap - talk soon!

  •  I've been going through old papers and (0+ / 0-)

    guess what I ran across, Cheney's quote where he says "conservation may be a sign of personal virtue, but it is not a sufficient basis for a sound, comprehensive energy policy." Guess when he said it? May of 2001.

    Think of all the time and money and lives lost to that criminal energy policy.

  •  Bravo! n/t (0+ / 0-)

    Educate yourself. Think for yourself. Be yourself. Do for others.

    by DHinIA on Thu Feb 12, 2009 at 12:17:06 AM PST

  •  negawatts are great (0+ / 0-)

    but they do NOT let us off the hook on replacing our fossil fuels with green energy.

    Let's start at the beginning.  Geothermal, wind, and solar energy together provide less than 1 percent of US electricity.

    That is a problem that can be fixed. And if we are to survive, must be fixed.

    I favor energy conservation, but a good energy conservation effort means a lesser need for green energy, not no need for green power.

    Looking for intelligent energy policy alternatives? Try here.

    by alizard on Thu Feb 12, 2009 at 01:11:14 AM PST

  •  Two Critical Points... (0+ / 0-)
    1. Google is tied closely to intel gathering for government. The more of your life you tie into Google, the more intimate knowledge the gov't has of every aspect of your life. For some this doesn't bother them. For me, I think it is down right creepy.
    1. Conservation is great, but the bottom line a small plot of land in New Mexico has the ability to power the United States with a single solar farm.

    Wind is also an excellent option.

    The one thing that is a cheap and quick solution to build that is not being used is tidal.

    I don't mean tidal flow turbines, I mean buoyancy/swell generators.

    If the coal and oil conglomerates did control energy policy in the US we would all have clean and cheap energy. The technology is readily available and pays spades in the long run, just the powers at be are holding it back for obvious reasons, money.

    -5.12/-5.28: Dali Lama-esk baby! / Regressioncans, you lost, get over it.

    by gimmeshelter on Thu Feb 12, 2009 at 01:20:21 AM PST

  •  Just a Note or Two (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    chapter1, shenderson

    Of course, conservation is both more economical and more effective than any renewable at reducing carbon emissions--for now. The only problem is that you cannot continuously squeeze energy out of the economy without eventually impacting standard of living. While you can possibly get a 50% reduction (and we sure need that!), getting to a zero-carbon energy production system won't happen with economizing.

    Not that we don't need it. People in the U.S.  on average use five times as much energy as the average human uses. In addition, we have only 4.5% of the population. For the rest of the world to come up to our standard of living would require enormous additional energy production. And, we are looking at as much as another 50% population growth before it peaks (depending on how aggressive we are promoting family planning and ending drivers of excess population growth, such as poor health and poverty).

    So, reduction in waste is an enormous benefit. Still, there's a limit on how much we can reasonably reduce usage and still carry on life as we know it.

    Don't count out the current renewable efforts. For example, the installed base of solar power, while small, doubled in California last year. If we can put the economy back on track, we can see exponential growth of solar, wind and geothermal energy systems, which are becoming very effective. At a high enough exponential growth rate, these types of energy will take a big chunk out of fossilized power in just a few years. They are not limited in their application, and can continue to keep growing.

    Also, note that Google thinks the average customer would only cut their usage by 5-15% by using their gadget. That's not the same as their tester, who shaved about $3000 off their yearly expenses (in part because they had a bad refrigerator).

    One thing that will really lead to enormous savings (separate from energy monitoring) is LED lighting. Currently, it is not very cost-competitive with CFLs, but recent research on LEDs may fix that. Here are a couple of links on LED research:

    More renewable energy news at

  •  No hardware? (0+ / 0-)

    That's what my electric meter does - measures how much electricity I'm using, as I'm using it. All I have to do is go outside to look at it. Pretty low-tech, but surely the hardware does indeed exist already!

    The electricity's still a bit spotty here. I'll be on until it goes out aga

    by SciMathGuy on Thu Feb 12, 2009 at 03:15:49 AM PST

  •  Thanks - like it - same effect with Gas (0+ / 0-)

    cars that have instant millage display encourage a more efficient driving.

  •  We reduced our electricity by 50% (0+ / 0-)

    just by switching to compact florescent bulbs in all our lights and paying a bit more attention about leaving them on. A little effort goes a long way in some instances.

  •  Every Legitimate Researcher (0+ / 0-)

    In renewable energy advocates conservation and efficiency as the most practical new energy source available to us going forward.  This is true for two reasons.  First, because we can add a huge amount of capability without capacity, second, efficiency is what makes relatively expensive renewables reasonable.  Ask anyone who tries to live off the grid with renewable technology.  The first thing you need to do is make your house as efficient as possible so that the expensive technologies you are going to deploy go as far as possible.  If we do two things, focus on conservation and efficiency, and add the external costs to dirty legacy fuels, renewables will find their way in the market place.  Otherwise they will always be stuck around 1%.

  •  what a positive approach and upbeat attitude (0+ / 0-)

    you communicate, along with the loads of practical information.  Thank you!

    Not Ideas about the Thing but the Thing Itself - Wallace Stevens

    by catchlightning on Thu Feb 12, 2009 at 06:27:31 AM PST

  •  Data mining (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Note that while waiting for the instantaneous data that smart metering will provide, note that many electric providers' web sites will allow you to download a history of monthly electrical use. A little while ago I got three years worth of my data from the AEP web site (monthly kwh usage):

    The seasonal air-conditioner effect is notable. The red line shows a 12-month moving average. My use has gone up in that interval mostly because of two servers I have running 24/7.

    Anyway, check your utility's web site. Could be "illuminating."

  •  Bush Deep Sixed Conservation (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Conservation and efficiency efforts used to be part of the EERE portfolio in federal research.   The Bush administration took that activity out of EERE and put it under the authority of the oil and gas industry.  I ask you, what incentive do the oil and gas industry have to get their customers to use less of their products?

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