Energy firm First:Utility has announced that it is partnering with Google to offer the search giant's PowerMeter, a tool that helps customers monitor their electricity usage, to its users and is offered for free by the search giant's philanthropic arm, Google.org.
First:utility is an independent provider of gas and electricity and is considered by some to be the cheapest energy provider in the country; incidentally also have a telecoms branch as well. They are already rolling out smartmeters for free which allows usage to be measured every 30 minutes (or on a daily basis for gas) thereby producing 100 percent accurate bills.
Google Powermeter will only be available to first:utility customers who are already on their Smart Tariff and have smart meters installed. Unfortunately, only households in East Midlands and in the Midlands can subscribe to the tariff. Obviously, the main attractions of the Powermeter service are that it allows you to identify where a household could save money.
According to the government's own Energy Saving Trust, monitoring energy consumption could help slash the price of energy bills by 15 percent or around £75 per year (ed, given that on average energy bills for an average household hovers around £1000, that would be equivalent to £160, enough to pay the broadband bill).
For those who do not or cannot move to First:Utility, they will have to buy a tiny device called AlertMe energy which costs £69 initially and £3 per month. The savings and the fact that you are significantly reducing your carbon footprint would possibly outweigh the cost of installing and running the Alertme Energy gadget.
Google.org has invested heavily in energy and health and could potentially help the search giant become a major actor in both sectors. The UK government already wants to have smartmeters in all households by the end of the next decade, something that is likely to cost users billions.