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Can You Unleash the Prius Effect in Your House?

29 October 2009 6:07 pm
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Dan Reicher, former assistant U.S. secretary of energy and now director of climate change and energy initiatives at Google, testified yesterday as part of the Senate climate hearings and mentioned an innovative tool Google recently announced: Google PowerMeter. It's an effort by Google to allow individuals to see constant energy-efficiency stats. "The power of that kind of information in helping you make efficiency choices is incredible," Reicher told ScienceInsider.

PowerMeter hopes to capitalize on the so-called Prius effect. The top-selling hybrid car, researchers have learned, saves energy not only because it switches efficiently between gasoline and electric power but also because of its conspicuous control screen, allowing drivers to see their real-time gasoline efficiency. According to a review by the U.K.'s DEFRA environmental agency of smart metering in people's homes, the Prius effect deployed at home could save up to 15% on energy bills.

Presenting data from a smart meter, Google PowerMeter sits on your Google homepage or handheld device and provides monthly, weekly, and hourly updates as to energy efficiency. "Give people feedback and it becomes a game," says Google's Ed Lu, an applied physicist who runs the program.

(Photo Credit: Google)

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