Microsoft Moves Into Energy Metering

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New online application beta aims to help US consumers track, understand and reduce home energy usage.

Microsoft last week launched a beta of Hohm, an online application designed  to help consumers lower their energy bills and reduce their impact on the environment.

It has licensed advanced analytics from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the US Department of Energy to provide consumers – for now, in the US only – with personalised energy saving recommendations, much like the Google Power Meter launched just weeks ago.

The free beta application is available online to appeal to those consumers who are motivated to save energy to reduce their spending and do their part in conserving the environment.

“We believe technology will play a pivotal role in tackling the global energy issues we currently face,” said Craig Mundie, chief research and strategy officer at Microsoft. “Microsoft Hohm demonstrates how a combination of advanced software and internet-based services can help people track, understand and manage their personal energy usage.”

Hohm provides its tailored savings recommendations, which can range from removing air leaks to installing a programmable thermostat, based on specific data available in the consumer’s home including house features, usage patterns and appliances.

If consumers don’t provide their data, Microsoft Hohm will base its recommendations on local and national averages. But the energy usage data and feedback it receives from users will be used to refine and improve the accuracy and relevancy of recommendations, it added.

Consumers will also be able to compare their energy usage with that of others in their area and connect with the Microsoft Hohm community to find referrals and exchange ideas.

The software vendor said Hohm is built on the Windows Azure cloud operating system, with its own software development kit (SDK). It also uses the Microsoft Advertising platform, suggesting possible future revenue potential, as well as the recently its launched Bing search engine.

And just like Google, it also announced tie-ups with a number of regional US utility companies, saying Hohm can help them meet increasing regulatory requirements for energy conservation by promoting utility conservation programmes with customers.