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DIY smart meter

If you like more than just a monthly electricity bill, then a whole-house electricity monitor can fill in some of the gaps. This is a sensor made by Wattvision that attaches to an electricity meter to track how much electricity is being consumed in real time. It's one of a few whole-house energy monitoring products that are designed to give people more insight into how they use electricity and clues on how to reduce waste.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Martin LaMonica/CNET
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Energy gateway gadget

The sensor on the meter attaches to this small gateway inside and the gateway uses Wi-Fi and a home broadband connection to send meter data online. Then you set up an account online and you can view a data graph of power in real time, by day, or by month. Looking at spikes in the data graph makes you curious about what causes them. Seeing power usage overnight gives you a good idea of a house's "baseline," or always-on, electricity use. The idea is that using that information--and in the future, more analysis on that data--people can get ideas on how to save energy and avoid being surprised by monthly power bills.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Martin LaMonica/CNET
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Crunching energy data

PlotWatt is one service that takes data from energy monitors, like Wattvision, and analyzes it to provide more detail on where power is being used. It can, for example, reliably recognize a refrigerator, air conditioner, and other large consumers. Having the information could prompt people to find ways to save, but it could also provide alerts when something is not working or needs tuning.

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Energy data apps

Once software developers have energy data, they can create different applications. This week, three California utilities announced they are participating in the federal government's Green Button initiative which lets people download their data in a standard format. In this case, the data is collected by smart meters and then analyzed to show people whether it's worth changing their time-of-use data plan or getting solar panels. Other applications helped provide recommendations for energy savings or to compete in online games around efficiency.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Chris King/eMeter
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