Energy management dashboards are aptly named. They are the equivalent of the dashboard on your car - but now somewhere visible in the home, and are designed to help give you control over how energy's consumed in your home. The concept comes from industries where limiting energy usage costs is critical - for example, large scale manufacturing or processing plants or massive computer data centres.
Controls and measuring
Energy dashboards are now being made by many large manufacturers, including the likes of Cisco and GE, among others. But before you go out to buy one for your home, there are some catches. The critical one is that appropriate devices have to be fitted to measure things like gas consumption, electricity consumption and so forth - and of course there needs to be some degree of manual control too, so that you're able to control temperature or lighting, and turn things on and off remotely.
Fixing bad habits
The idea behind energy management dashboards is that access to data related to energy consumption will encourage people to change their energy consumption behaviour - and behaviour can make a far bigger impact on energy costs than clever design alone. Energy management dashboards allow users to set energy rules and schedules for their households - in some cases, communicating with smart meters so that certain appliances are only operated at low tarrif rates.
For example, if your heater has a programmable thermostat you could set it to turn the heat down late at night when everyone is in bed anyway. To take full advantage of the home automation possibilities, dashboards need a way to communicate with other appliances - perhaps through wireless protocols like ZigBee or Wi-Fi.