Google wants to be a big player in the smart grid, and has issued proposals and is testing software to help lower home energy consumption. The Mountain View, Calif., company believes one of the major roadblocks to lowered energy consumption is that consumers do not have access to their complete energy-use records. It wants to help give consumers more detailed information on their energy use than utilities companies provide in monthly billing statements. “Google’s mission is to ‘organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful,’ and we believe consumers have a right to detailed information about their home electricity use,” says Google’s blog.

Google cites studies showing that more in-depth knowledge of their power consumption habits leads consumers to greatly reduce their electricity usage. For example, how many gamers know that their PS3 costs them up to $250 dollars a year in electricity, and uses five times more energy yearly than a refrigerator?

Such information is only leaked to consumers in fragments, and you have to look in the right places for it. Having it delivered monthly would no doubt help consumers realize how much some seemingly innocuous gadgets are costing them.

The results of even moderate energy reduction reported on Google’s blog are pretty eye-opening, stating that if “half of America's households cut their energy demand by 10 percent, it would be the equivalent of taking eight million cars off the road.”

With Obama’s stimulus package, 40 million homes will be equipped with smart meters, which will provide better consumption information to power companies, but Google wants to make the information available to consumers.

One way it aims to help consumers is with new software that is currently in private beta. Google Power Meter shows consumers their home power consumption in real-time.

Google will further outline its vision for the smart power grid with its February 17th conference “Plug into the Smart Grid,” co-hosted by General Electric, in Washington D.C.

By Mark Alvarez