Remember those TV ads that NBC likes to run (Green is Universal) with helpful tips reminding us that we’re using energy just by keeping our computers and cell phones plugged in even when they are not in use? We won’t need those reminders much longer.

The next killer wireless apps are those that will actually help us monitor our energy use and hopefully conserve power by informing us at home about our energy usage.   That’s the goal of the new wireless meter readers that are allowing homeowners to track and control their energy use via their home Internet and wireless devices.

Texas is now home to the largest role out of these smart meters as almost a quarter-million homes will have them installed over the next five years. The “smart meters” will be able to measure energy usage every 15 minutes.
In addition to empowering homeowners to track and conserve energy, the smart meters also help the providers manage demand during peak times, and help providers adjust pricing based on demand.

But some say that it not enough and that meters give the consumers the feel of control without real control.  According to this article the real killer app of the future will be a home energy dashboard like the ones offered by Tendril.

The dashboards are connected to energy outlets throughout the home like thermostats and electricity meters and outlets and display ongoing information about consumption levels. This real time information empowers consumers to track their energy usage on a very detailed level helping them to not only save money but also to reduce overall load on the system.

The real value of “smart grid” technologies, and how effective they will be in terms of conservation and price control remains to be seen.  But the interest in this area by a whole host of small and large technology companies we hope means that this is only the beginning of better products to put conservation in the hands of consumers.