There has been quite some attention on the concept of "Energy Dashboards" lately, in particular with the recent announcement of Google PowerMeter. The idea here is that online widgets show consumers their electricity consumption in near real-time, offering a more useful and actionable feedback than complicated monthly paper bills that provide little detail on consumption or how to save energy. In addition, putting such widgets on a personal website or online profile page makes one's efforts more apparent, adds subtle forms of social pressure and solicits potential positive encouragements.
While the PowerMeter project is still in "private beta", other online energy dashboards can already be admired.
. The Energy Detective project merged the actual energy output of an everyday family with a Google Visualization API Timeline visualization, which itself is based on a Twitter-based feed from the smart metering device. Remarkable events or peaks are regularly annotated, and one can easily make out when typical household activities have taken place.
. The flashy Radisson Hotel Building Dashboard seems to offer near real-time statistics about water, electricity and natural gas usage, and the weather. As a hotel, it should really try to consider offering some real data behind those ambivalent "Please use our towels multiple times, for the sake of nature" signs.
Other recent websites focus on using group pressure and social encouragement by publishing one's efforts in more sustainable living within the framework of an online social network.
- Make Me Sustainable allows users to calculate and reduce their carbon footprint, which is then represented as a simple history bar graph or translated in the metaphor of "trees saved" or "cars taken off the road".
Finally, the Carbon Monitoring for Action portal is a massive database containing information on the carbon emissions of over 50,000 power plants and 4,000 power companies worldwide, visualized on a world map. By providing complete information for both "clean" and "dirty" power producers, CARMA hopes to influence the opinions and decisions from consumers to policy makers.