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10 Monitoring Tools Bringing Smart Energy Home

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plugoutletimageThanks to funds from the stimulus package and renewed attention to energy savings, 2009 is the year companies are planning to launch wireless energy dashboards that will sit in your home, monitor energy data from your electricity meter and let you know if you’re being an energy hog. While tech firms have been trying to sell you on the “digital home” for years — complete with wireless networks that can do everything from control your entertainment equipment to operate high-tech security systems to roast a chicken — the new energy management firms are keeping it simple by using low-cost hardware and open standards to monitor energy data.

This year is particularly important to these mostly young companies, as President Obama has pledged to help utilities install 40 million more smart meters (basically digital meters that create a 2-way connection with the power grid and the utility). Smart meters installed at homes can unleash data about the fluctuating price of electricity throughout the day, enabling consumers that have energy management tools to shift energy consumption to the time of day when power is cheapest. For utilities, that can mean better management of the power grid and eliminate the need to build out expensive power generating systems.

A half-dozen companies are launching their first energy dashboards this year, and a few others are starting to gain traction with already available online tools. One of the biggest differences between these firms is whether companies will sell directly to the consumer or to utility partners for upcoming smart meter rollouts. Several of the already-available options for consumers bypass smart meters and utilities and just help the interested consumer with a standard electricity meter. They’re cheap and available online, but they provide less detailed data.

The utility-focused tools use smart meter info to provide a deeper dive into energy analysis and can even control smart appliances for utilities to implement demand response events. But the drawback of such tools is that you’ll need a lot of patience and a little luck. To get hooked up with one of these tools, you’ll need to be in the footprint of a utility that’s rolling out smart meters, and at this point less than 6 percent of the U.S. population has a smart meter.

energyhubimagesmallEnergyHub: EnergyHub makes a high-end energy dashboard that will offer Google Docs-style spreadsheets and graphs of resource useEnergyHub recently raised Series A funding and says it’s working on a 50-home pilot trial in an East Coast city with a yet-to-be-named utility. The device will be sold direct to consumers online and through utilities. Available: Mid-2009.

tendrildashboardTendril: Tendril sells a combo of energy management services, including a wireless in-home energy display, a smart thermostat, a web-based energy portal, smart outlets and cell phone apps that can help homeowners diagnose and cut energy consumption. While the startup, which raised $12 million in Series B funding earlier this year, is now offering its tools to utilities, it’s also considering a direct-to-consumer approach. Available: Now, to utilities

onzodevicessmallOnzo: London-based Onzo makes a slick-looking energy display and wireless sensor kit that runs on energy harvested from the home electrical cable. The startup has raised £2 million ($4 million) from Sigma Capital Group and Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE); SSE has placed an order for £7 million-worth of Onzo devices and services and has exclusive rights to Onzo’s products and services in the UK and Ireland. Available: Mid-2009

agilewavesimageAgilewaves: Agilewaves‘ Resource Monitor tracks and manages energy, gas and water consumption in real time from web-enabled devices. The system, custom-designed for larger buildings and higher-end homes, needs to be installed by an electrician and can also be used to dim lights, turn on and off heating and cooling, and adjust smart appliances. The six-person, Menlo Park, Calif.-based startup is actively looking to raise a Series A round of funding. Available: Now

googlepowermeterGoogle PowerMeter: The search-engine giant told us recently that it is trying to bring PowerMeter, its online energy information tool, to market sometime this year. Google is working with device makers — we’ve reported on GE and Tendril — and hoping to launch with a direct-to-consumer product as well as a utility product. Available: 2009

greenboxlogoGreenBox: Like Google, GreenBox is focusing on the software side of things with its web-based energy tool. The team, founded by developers of the digital web platform Flash, is already working with utilities, including Oklahoma Gas and Electric and an as-yet-unnamed New York utility, and has also partnered with smart thermostat makers Energate and Golden Power Manufacturing. The company hopes to close its first round of funding by June. Available: Now, to utilities

tedimageThe Energy Detective: The Energy Detective (or TED) is one of the few energy management tools that’s already available to consumers. The Charleston, S.C.-based company behind TED, called Energy Inc., says its system can save home owners 10-20 percent on their monthly electricity bill. Available: Now

dreamwattsgatewayPowerMand: Founded in 2006, Portland, Ore.-based PowerMand makes DreamWatts, a wireless energy management tool that focuses on making smart thermostats effective for cutting energy consumption. The company, which is partnering with facilities maintenance firms and utilities, provides a smart thermostat, an Internet gateway and a service running over PowerMand’s servers. Available: Now

greenenergyoptionsGreen Energy Options: Cambridge, UK-based Green Energy Options‘ home energy monitoring system, called the Home Energy Hub, comes in three display options: a small one-panel display, the Solo, which shows real-time pricing and consumption; the two-paneled Duet, which shows energy management of up to six appliances; and the Trio, which is a large touchscreen that can monitor up to 100 sensors. Available: Summer 2009 to consumers in the UK.

energyawareimageEnergy Aware: Founded in 2005, the Vancouver, B.C.-based Energy Aware team has developed the PowerTab, a wireless energy display that collects current energy price and usage from smart meters. Demand response company Comverge distributes the device in North America, and the startup has raised close to $2 million in funding from angel investors in the Pacific Northwest. Available: Second-quarter 2009, to utilities

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227 Responses to “10 Monitoring Tools Bringing Smart Energy Home”

  1. All Good! Now! really help to make the meters show improvements! Super -insulations! that’s what we need! Put them in appliances like fridges, to lower running costs, Stoves run hotter on less with them, coils burn brighter and heat less of the stove more of whats on top with them, Walls keep in more of what you have already paid for! Silicon gels, astounding insulation values! Kept from Joe Public to maintain the Status Quo in the Market place, to guarantee ROI on current investments, instead of improving America’s efficiencies! We are being held back from our own great technological advances by mis-applications of U.S. Patent laws, by Shysters, treasonous Shysters, in many ways, Witness: the EV-1 electric car and its fabulous batteries bought by the oil giants and buried forever – to sell more oil at any cost to us! Don’t believe me, look on this very net for the movie “Who Killed the Electric car”, watch it an weep, American! Hoisted on your own petard, you are! ROI and corporate greed has given your fattened asses away to the Asians, especially the Chinese who look at American patent, trademark, and copyright laws as fvcking unenforceable follies, as they steal our markets away from us as we watch, and pummel Afghanistan for Turkmenistan oil China claims anyway, in desperation for heating oil we waste at home, due to lack of super-insulations not brought to markets by corporatists, capitalists in protective mode and in power in America, defending ROI, as is their duty, even at our expense! Somethings gotta give! I expect it will be us, at the rate the Hoovervilles are growing, the dollar is falling, gold is rising, and the markets soaring! Buckle up folks it will be a long cold ride to the bottom, with no super-insulations of the modern age to keep us warn and economical!

    • Russ Bell

      Uncle B,

      My you must be off of your Lithium again!! For those electric car fans out there, where do you think the electricity comes from? SPACE???

      If you are attempting to “reduce the carbon footprint” wouldnt you like to know where the power that is charging your batteries is coming from?? It could be a nasty coal fired plant ehhh??

  2. Thanks for a great roundup. I have noticed that the number of companies publicizing their home electricity monitoring devices and software has gone way up in the last few months. Google and Microsoft are now involved, too! Another product you did not mention (perhaps because they are very new) is Visible Energy’s home energy management systems (, which make use of smart powerstrips that send electricity use data over the Web to be read by an iPhone application. From your iPhone you can even turn your appliances on and off. This is helpful if you are on vacation and forgot to turn off the TV!

  3. Energy efficiency is not all about pricey hardware. There are a lot of ways to start saving energy using FREE online tools.

    Check out for a very helpful consumer-focused solution that is available to ANYBODY right now! The ‘target market’ is homeowners and small business owners, and there is even a local sponsorship option for bigger organizations to ‘cash in’ on local/regional interest with targeted marketing efforts.

  4. Has anyone seen similar devices happening in water? For countries where there’s a lack of it the impact of climate change and increasing customer interest should be driving the creation of such devices for the water sector.

    • There is a startup in San Diego, CA, that is developing one that diverts grey water from black water via sensors, or something, in the pipes, in real time. I can’t recall the name, but being able to divert the grey water to uses such as the garden would save billions and billions of gallons if it is scaleable, and the costs come down enough.

  5. I do agree with the principle put forward by the author above, in particular each of us MUST become informed about the way energy is used in our homes, and in our businesses.

    But we must go further, for understanding energy use (by owning a monitor or by learning) does not result in savings. It is only when our learning becomes an “attitude to save energy” and we put “legs” on our knowledge that savings are made.

    For those looking for a home monitoring device we have compiled a complete list, with links to their manufacturer web sites, and user comments.

    But to us all, please focus on taking action, we all have one certain monitor – our energy bill – you WILL see it go down by exactly the amount you save. I encourage you to do something to save today, and then use the money saved to save more.

    You can buy a more efficient device, insulate your home, create savings accounts to motivate the family to do things like “shower shorter” – “turn a light off” – “replace a bulb” – all making further savings.

    We really do look forward to seeing the effect of the changes we have made show in our energy bill each month.

  6. In today’s world, where energy is becoming more and more expensive on many levels, from the cost to the environment in the extraction of coal and oil, through to pollution caused by burning fossil fuels, we can not be energy hogs any more.

    The first step towards saving energy is to be aware of exactly how your usage occurs, and these devices are prime examples of engineering marvels to address this very issue. For a green household (or office, or, or…) it is an important must have monitoring tool. Which one you decide on purchasing ultmately will be determined by your individual choice and budget, but getting one is highly recommended.

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  8. Abdullah S. Eyles

    Just to answer Craig’s question:

    “‘that runs on energy harvested from the home electrical cable.’ What the hell does that mean?”

    The device contains electronic circuitry which generates power from the alternating magnetic field surrounding the power cable in your installation (this same magnetic field is used to measure the amount of power consumed and display it on the meter). This enables the device to be powered without the need for batteries which will obviously need replacing every few months.

    Don’t worry, it’s not making something out-of-nothing; it only uses a fraction of the power a normal light bulb consumes (even CFL!)

  9. I have just come across this site and have found it to very interesting and informative, I just love this new system, that can do everything and the best for me is even roast a chicken, and its all about saving and helping the earth which is even better.

    Great post and I hope to come back again.


    Do you monitor the amount of energy used in your home on a regular basis?
    Do you have any devices, products or web applications that help you track your consumption?

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  12. 4smartgrid


    I switched from other thread on powermeter vs. hohm. This is a good list. Do you or anyone know if VCs are still investing in seed level funding in this crowded field? Thanks

  13. All excellent devices but can we also look at the open source software initiatives to use the information collected, and more – get it published – so others will be motivated to engage.

  14. I understand a company called LS Research has a very good product called Ratesaver so that people can monitor their energy usage on a real time basis. Anyone know more about this?

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  16. Spencer Chase

    Heard that Ambient Technology (ABTG), will be assisting utilities with solutions for creating smart grid communication platforms and technologies. They are dedicated to identifying, developing, and ultimately manufacturing optimized solutions for Ambient’s utility clients. An aggressive development program enabling rapid and timely delivery of volume orders has been established to support next-generation communications node development and delivery. Due to this companys agenda to develop, deploy and deliver, smart grid is now a reality.

    • The first step towards saving energy is to be aware of exactly how your usage occurs, and these devices are prime examples of engineering marvels to address this very issue. For a green household (or office, or, or…) it is an important must have monitoring tool. Which one you decide on purchasing ultmately will be determined by your individual choice and budget, but getting one is highly recommended.