Discussing Energy Economics on the Internet

Google, Microsoft Drop Home Energy Products

Posted in Demand Management,Smart Meters by Cheryl Morgan on the July 5th, 2011

Last week Google announced that it would be discontinuing its PowerMeter product, which allowed users with access to the requisite data to monitor their home energy use online. Within days Microsoft followed suit, announcing the end of their Hohm product.

Lack of customer interest was cited as the primary reason for the death of both products but, as Tom Raftery at Sustainable Business explains, that lack of interest was primarily a result of being unable to get access to the data that the applications needed. Even if suitable meters were available, the level public disquiet over smart meters must have deterred take-up.

Christine Hertzog at The Energy Collective suggests that what is needed is some sort of loyalty scheme that would somehow “gamify” the process of saving energy. I’m not entirely sure that would work. Most such schemes concentrate on encouraging the consumer to spend more in order to get yet more things cheaply. A system that encouraged people to consume less in order to save money would need a rather different dynamic. And if it resulted in the saved money being spent on more consumer goods, would that really reduce energy use?

The other problem, of course, is that the amount of money that can be saved has to be worth the effort. One of the reasons that retail competition has been such a damp squib is that the effort required to switch supplier has been quite large given the relatively small amount of money that can be saved by doing so.

Still, I don’t even have the option of installing a smart meter here in the UK. When I do, I shall be interested to see what energy management tools and incentive schemes I am offered with it.

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