Paving the Way to Smarter Energy Use: Why Google.org is Supporting Policy Reforms Paving the Way to Smarter Energy Use: Why Google.org is Supporting Policy Reforms
Paving the Way to Smarter Energy Use: Why Google.org is Supporting Policy Reforms
In recent years, we've seen big changes in the way we watch TV, use phones, read, and listen to music. But how we use electricity hasn't changed much in decades.
What if instead of a monthly bill we had access to more real-time and actionable information about our electricity consumption? What if our appliances, air conditioners, and lights adjusted automatically to use energy more efficiently and save money? If we did this in every home it would help improve the reliability of the grid and save billions of dollars.
The technology is already available to make this happen today. Smart meters, which make it easier to measure real-time household energy consumption, are expected to reach the majority of American homes by 2015. Programmable thermostats and smart appliances—refrigerators, washing machines, and other appliances connected to the Internet and controllable by computer or phone—can give consumers a better ability to decide how and when to use energy at home. There is huge potential to lower costs and reduce energy consumption—studies show that just having access to data about their energy use helps consumers reduce that use by up to 15 percent.
The challenge is that the rules governing electricity distribution were written for last century’s grid. That’s why Google.org is giving a $2.65 million grant to the Energy Foundation to support policy reforms that will lead to more intelligent energy use. The effort will focus on three fundamental areas:
- Smarter electricity rates that encourage consumers to be more efficient, shift their electricity use to times when it’s cheaper and produce their own on-site energy;
- Access to electricity markets for consumers and other businesses so they can be compensated for cutting energy use at key times;
- Open data policies that give customers access to their own energy data, which they can use or share with third parties they select, promoting better energy management tools and services.
These policy reforms, coupled with the new technologies now being deployed on a large scale, can empower consumers to make smarter energy choices, improve real-time management of the electricity grid, and help facilitate more renewable energy, all while lowering overall costs.
We hope this grant will help catalyze change and look forward to seeing progress in the years to come.
Michael Terrell is Senior Policy Counsel for Energy & Sustainability at Google.
This month, challenge a neighbor to GOOD's energy smackdown. Find a neighbor with a household of roughly the same square footage and see who can trim their power bill the most. Throughout February, we'll share ideas and resources for shrinking your household carbon footprint, so join the conversation at good.is/energy.
Why Oysters are Shacking up in Old Subway Cars States scrap over metal in a race to boast the greenest reef.
A Cable Car Revolution in the World’s Highest City The future of Bolivia’s public transportation takes to the skies.
When Humans Fight, but Animals Win Penguins have resorted to using landmines to keep pesky humans away.
So You Think You’re a Foodie? Pop culture was onto these trends way before you were. A sampling of the screwball comedies, sob stories, and sci-fis that anticipated our culinary moment
Dear Nine-Year-Old Me The transition is going to be difficult for you, but whenever you feel a little lonely and left out, take comfort in the knowledge that you are honing one of your greatest superpowers.
What to Do When Your Country is Drowning The wild and desperate ways island nations are fighting the effects of climate change
The Rise of Drone Pizza Delivery Why the skies will soon be filled with flying, snack-bearing robots
How Helsinki Became a Public Transporation Paradise One European city plans to make car ownership obsolete within a decade.
Follow the Crowd NanoCrafter and the rise of group intelligence Why online gaming may just be the future of science
The Empathy Mirror Neurofeedback enables us to better see ourselves in the other. Recent discoveries in neurofeedback can teach you to be less of a dick.
Robots On Ice Probe the Arctic Why a team of research robots is investigating disappearing sea ice, and why you should care
Don’t Turn Away Colin Finlay photographs the consequences of climate change. You will never see more beautiful photos of the deteriorating state of our planet than the ones in this photo feature.