Compete on energy savings

Yes, I totally agree with Clive Thompson about his new Wired column. Regulating your use of physical goods (e.g. gas) is easy, because you always see how much you're using, and how much you have left. With electricity, this is completely invisible - do you know how much your TV really takes electricity? You get a bill every month (or in case of my electricity company, they just make a guesstimate, and read the meter once a year, then charge you the difference). That's not very good feedback.

There was a column in the Helsingin Energia -magazine by Risto Harjanne which said that by 2010, they are hoping to enable most electricity meters in the Helsinki area for remote reading. This would allow you to monitor your own electricity consumption, over the web, instantly. Already about 10% of their customers is already enabled, though there hasn't been that much noise about it.

Clive Thompson also has another good point: the energy consumption figures should be made public. I'd very much like to connect my Facebook account to my electricity bill and compete against others (I would probably lose though; electric saunas are awful energy consumers). But that would be the way to bring it out in the open, and really make people see the difference. Seeing your own figures still tells you nothing. Comparing it to others would give you a baseline level.

Where are the open APIs to remote-readable electricity meters? How about open APIs to car on-board computers which calculate your gas consumption? Anybody need a capable designer for that kind of stuff? ;-)


Fortum Espoo already allows you to read your meter every second month, and SMS them the reading. Then they send a bill for exactly the amount you've actually used. This works of course only if you have access to your own meter.

--Terje Bergström, 27-Aug-2007

I would really like to have it read every second :-)

--JanneJalkanen, 27-Aug-2007

Actually, standardized plugs with standard protocols to every car's onboard computer have been mandatory in the States since '96 or so, and in Europe after 2001. There are cheap converters from OBD protocols/connectors to simple RS-232, and there's at least one Linux program that can read and parse the codes.

Yeah, I've been looking for a new car :-). I just testdrove a Toyota today and easily found the connector just above my left knee on the driver's side. The Toyota also had plenty of extra compartments for small embedded computers and screens....

--Kim, 28-Aug-2007

Ooo, nice. Thanks for this info! :-)

--JanneJalkanen, 28-Aug-2007

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