"Smart Meters" To Watch Over In-Home Energy Usage, Cull Waste

You might think that President Obama's stimulus package was worth overlooking for tech enthusiasts, but really, there are more than a few reasons to take notice. Obama clearly understands the power of the Web, and he clearly understands that harnessing technology is a great way to better a country. We've already heard about his plans to roll out broadband to more rural areas, and now we're hearing more about a $3.4 billion decision to upgrading our energy grid and make individuals think longer and harder about the power they consume.

The plan, which was rolled out this week, sets aside a rather large chunk of cash (that'll be matched and then some by private companies) to start building a "smart" electric grid. The purpose? To trim electric bills, reduce blackouts and carry new energy produced by solar and win plants. A huge solar plant has opened this week in Florida, and more are said to be on the way in Nevada and California.

But honestly, none of that is the most interesting. What's wild is the 40 million (at least, that's the goal) smart meters that'll be installed in homes across America. What these will do is give users a visual representation of how much energy they are consuming, which will hopefully allow them to be more mindful of their waste and cut down when possible. Also, these meters will be programmable, making it easy to trim usage during peak times, cut things off at a certain time and fire things up at a certain time.

Of course, it's up for debate whether or not this is a smart use of government funds, but it's tough to deny the cool factor. Do you see yourself changing your energy habits with a visual meter on the wall? Or will you train yourself to ignore it and carry on?