5 Energy Monitoring Startups to Help You Cut Home Power

The 81 million buildings in the U.S. consume more energy than any other sector of the U.S. economy, including transportation and industry, says the U.S. government. Here’s five startups that are building software and hardware to help consumers and businesses cut down on power consumption. The more building owners know about the power they use, the easier it is to cut energy and carbon-emissions — a case of knowledge equals less power (used).

Lucid Design Group: The four-year-old startup was the result of research at Oberlin College; it sells a software and sensor service that monitors the real-time use of electricity, natural gas and water. The sensors collect data on electricity and other resources consumed, then use a dashboard to display the amount of money both spent and saved. The company won the California Cleantech Open’s Green Building prize in 2007 in the “Smart Power” group and in 2008 convinced Yahoo to use its dashboard for its corporate offices. Last we heard, Lucid was looking for funding, but they haven’t gotten back to us with details yet.

GreenBox: The founders of energy monitoring software startup GreenBox –Jonathan Gay and Robert Tatsumi — are also the creators of the well-known interactive web technology, Flash. The duo is using their technology know-how to build software to measure a home’s energy consumption and create an interactive system to help homeowners cut down on energy use. (Our coverage here.) The one-year-old startup is based in San Bruno, Calif, and is backed with an angel round from the former CEO of Macromedia, Rob Burgess, and former Macromedia CFO Betsey Nelson.

AgileWaves: AgileWaves makes a comprehensive energy dashboard for green homes, which can monitor not only electricity and gas, but also eco-home add-ons like a living roof, a geothermal well, or an efficient sprinkler system. Based in Palo Alto, Calif., the company has started implementing its system for customers nearby and announced last month that the Nueva School in Hillsborough, Calif., has started using their “Resource Monitor” system. The company says it’s different from competitors because its Resource Monitor can employ over a hundred separate temperature, moisture, electricity and gas sensors to provide a live read-out of your home’s energy consumption, breaking the data down by floor, room — even appliance.

DIY Kyoto: Three designers from the Royal College of London formed collective DIY Kyoto, and together have built the stylishly designed energy monitoring gadget The Wattson. The Wattson (for watts on?) tracks your energy use and shows off your power consumption in the form of either how much you’re spending, or how many watts are being used. The box also emits a colored glow for a more subtle reminder to turn your lights off. The DIY Kyoto folks say their gadget can cut your annual electricity bill by 5 percent to 20 percent; the device itself costs £149.50 ($292). Wattson also comes with a sidekick — a smart piece of software called the Holmes that turns your energy data into nifty easy-to-read charts and graphs. The entire set You can also get a handmade limited edition version made out of bamboo for £350.

Onzo: The Wattson doesn’t have the patent on good-looking gadgets that monitor home energy use. A London-based startup called Onzo has a a chic energy monitoring device, which we thought looked a bit like an iPod. Could the device have the same effect on cutting energy consumption as the iPod has had on digital music? Who knows, but so far the team has picked up £2 million in financing from Sigma Capital Group and Scottish and Southern Energy.

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