Phantom fighter: MeterPlug reports electric use in dollars
A gadget under development aims to make power costs a little less mysterious by tracking and reporting electricity use in terms of dollars.
It's cold. I'm sitting here with a heating pad on my desk chair. I use it all the time, but I have no idea what its real impact on my electric bill is. The same goes for my LED Christmas tree and the glowing smartphone charger I leave plugged in all the time. The big mystery around the cost of electrical appliances could soon be cleared up if a little device called MeterPlug hits its fundraising goal on Indiegogo.
MeterPlug plugs into an outlet. You then plug your appliance directly into the MeterPlug. The gadget reports energy usage over Bluetooth to an app that translates the draw into actual dollars. You can manually enter your local electricity prices or use the app's average for your country.
The app for iOS and Android tracks energy usage and cost over time. It can also turn appliances on and off through the app or through a proximity setting. Walk away with your phone in your pocket and the TV turns off. Return, and it turns back on.
An early-bird pledge of $45 on Indiegogo will get you a MeterPlug of your own to try out. However, the gadget is probably most effective when you use a bunch of them to monitor your different devices. If you really want to go nuts, you can pledge $700 for an early-bird package of 20 MeterPlugs.
Sure, $700 would go a long way toward paying the average household electric bill. If there's a flaw in the MeterPlug plan, it's the cost of the gadget itself. You have to weigh the potential savings that could come with using the plugs against the cost to obtain them.