Here's a guy who's using a Rube Goldbergian method to monitor his energy use on a custom Google gadget on his desktop. He's done it with webcams focused on his electric meters, and using the Android operating system running on a BeagleBoard and a Tweet-a-Watt power meter, he sends pics to free photo site Flickr, into which he enters the electric values, and then they're shown on a desktop gadget. Whew!
Confused? See the entire diagram on his site. To make it more streamlined, this tinkerer is thinking it would be a lot easier if there were optical character recognition of the meters, forgoing that awkward step of entering each reading into a data field. He's also considering using one of those home energy monitoring devices we've shown you, sending that data up into the cloud instead.
We'll laugh at this five years from now. Heck, we're laughing at it now. While this is a convoluted way to monitor of energy usage, it's a foreshadowing of things to come, where the smart grid will let you constantly read and graph your energy usage right there on your PC desktop or mobile device. Maybe if you're aware of how much electricity you're using in real time, it could elicit sufficient guilt for you to stop trying to cool that abode of yours down to a temperature of a meat locker this summer.