There is a small CurrentCost craze going on at Hursley, which involves people setting up their piece of kit and seeing what cool things they can do with the data.
CurrentCost is basically an induction meter. Clamp one end to your electricity meter, and plug in the little lcd display and (fingers crossed) you should start seeing the current electricity usage of your humble abode.
There are a couple of reasons why this is cool. Firstly anyone can set this up. No need for Andy Standford-Clark skills to be up and running with this. Therefore it is something that is accessible to the masses, which is a good thing. Using this unit you can see what happens when you turn lights on, what the dishwasher has done to your power, and from this you could start changing the way you live to try and save money. Secondly (and this is the geeky part) you can get the data from the unit via a serial cable. Every 7ish seconds the unit will send data over the wire in xml format, which you can then do what you like with.
I have already spoken to one Hursleyite that has managed to save about £7 a month as he did not realise that his home hifi was drawing a large amount of power even in standby! I have just had my first full 24 hours of using the kit and will blog about my findings later…..