Most of the tech companies working to make the electrical grid more efficient are going after utilities, but Google is taking it to the people. It has muscled into the smart-grid game with PowerMeter, a Web app that will let users keep an eye on their electrical use. This could lead to a more dramatic development: "Demand response software," which would let the power companies remotely control household appliances to, say, put your fridge to sleep during an afternoon demand peak and reactivate it in the evening.

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