Right now you can get a plug computer for $50.
In a few years they'll be $5 or less.
At that point, you might as well buy the plug with the computer built in and use it for home energy insight, automation, and control. Or build it into every appliance, or both. Once the appliances can talk to the plugs and the internet, lowering your carbon footprint from your PDA in real time will be trivial. Leave the house and you can know that you're only consumption is to keep the pipes from freezing. If you notice a surge in usage when no one is supposed to be home, then you can check on things and see if the police are needed.
But keep in mind that it's just a development platform. It's a small, low cost, easy to use, low energy computer. Remove the plug and you've got a $50 computer that can be run off solar cells and an SLA battery.
Get a wifi or cellular model, buy a few thousand of them, attach a cheap webcam, and mount them on utility poles pointing at gas station signs. Viola! A real-time gas price website for all the gas stations along a few hundred miles of freeway corridor. If you get each of a thousand people to pay $0.99 per month for the iPhone gas app for that one freeway, you've just made an income source that will keep you in the black for your next project, and you can sell your data to many other services.
Connect one to several cameras and GPS on top of your car, use another inside your car as the NAS, and build your own Google streetview car on the cheap for $200.
Ignore the fact that you plug them in - that's just part of the built-in development kit.
They are $50 linux computers.
What can't you use them for?