UK launch for Google Powermeter via AlertMe – but please don't tweet your light switch

powermeter_screenGoogle Powermeter, the search giant’s home energy monitoring tool, has launched in the UK today. While the environment stands to benefit – research shows that when users have access to detailed information about their energy use, household energy bills are reduced by up to 10% – Cambridge, UK-based AlertMe should also do quite well out of this. The VC-backed company has become Google’s first device partner for the service.

AlertMe is backed by leading clean technology investors including Good Energies, Index Ventures, SET VP, and Vantage Point, and in June 2009 announced an £8 million Series B round of funding bringing the total amount raised to £13 million.

Users who want to take advantage of Google Powermeter can purchase a self-installable AlertMe Energy kit and accompanying subscription (£69.00 for the hardware and then £2.99 per month). They’ll then be able to access their energy consumption data on Powermeter, sort of like Google Analytics but for energy, visualised on their iGoogle home page. AlertMe also provides its own web-based ‘dashboard’ that can be accessed wherever there is an Internet connection, including through mobile phones.

Alternatively, consumers can utilise Powermeter if they sign up to an energy provider that supports both smart meters and Google’s online service. The first energy company to do so will be first:utility, which offers free smart meters to its customers, although Google Powermeter support won’t come until next month. The advantage of AlertMe’s service is that it doesn’t require environmentally conscious and money savvy customers to switch energy providers.

Home energy services such as Google Powermeter and AlertMe’s own offering are another example of the “Internet of things” concept whereby the net is penetrating the home well beyond the PC and living room. On that note, Google’s Jens Redmer, director for business development, gives an insight into how services like Powermeter could develop.

He tells The Guardian that in the future Google Powermeter could become more social: “In the future, one new feature could be friendly competition – why can’t I challenge my friends to say I’ll save 10% over a year, and then trigger alerts when they’re falling behind, so I could ping them to encourage them?”

This is of course a nightmare scenario. Imagine social media obsessives sitting in the dark for prolonged periods so that they can Twitter their power consumption scores.

Actually I’m sure this will happen.