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Intel demos smart home energy monitoring system

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Intel has invented an experimental low-cost sensor that can be plugged into house wiring and instantly measure and report power consumption of each electrical load in the home.

Intel on Wednesday said that it has invented an experimental low-cost sensor that can be plugged into house wiring and instantly measure and report power consumption of each electrical load in the home.

This sensor would then give consumers the ability to analyze the energy usage of every device and appliance in the home.

The power management gadgets were detailed by Intel chief technology officer Justin Rattner at the company's developer powwow in Beijing. For Intel, these sensors and smart home applications are a nice way to embed its processors in new markets. You can see the video walkthrough of the smart home possibilities in Intel's keynote presentation.

Also see: Intel: We want to bring Moore's Law to the smart grid

Rattner said:

Individual consumers must have the information, tools and incentives to conserve scarce energy resources, minimize their carbon impact and keep their energy budgets under control. If we can make energy more personalized with real-time information and offer visual tools that engage entire communities, it will lead to valuable changes in behavior and save staggering amounts of energy.

Intel's prototype definitely sounds easier than other monitoring systems, which typically rely on utility partnerships and metering technologies. If home energy monitoring would be simply a case of plugging in a sensor consumer adoption would ramp up quickly.

The Intel prototype monitors performance, recommends fixes to be more efficient, sets goals and rewards success. Intel paired a home energy display and wireless sensor. The cost of this pair wasn't detailed, but Ratter said that these systems could save a U.S. household $470 a year. Spread those savings across 113 million households and you wind up with energy savings of $50 billion a year. The carbon emissions payoff could be huge.

In addition, Intel's Rattner said the chip giant is working on smart grid technology to find peak times to charge electric cars and better manage peak loads. Intel talked about its smart grid vision at a recent Jefferies investment conference.

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Larry Dignan

Editor-in-Chief

Editor-in-Chief Larry Dignan is editor-in-chief of SmartPlanet and ZDNet. He is also editorial director of TechRepublic. Previously, he was an editor at eWeek, Baseline and CNET News. He has written for WallStreetWeek.com, Inter@ctive Week, New York Times and Financial Planning. He holds degrees from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and the University of Delaware. He is based in New York but resides in Pennsylvania. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure