Microsoft Web site aims to make your house a Hohm

May 26, 2010 By JESSICA MINTZ , AP Technology Writer

(AP) -- Microsoft Corp. is slowly beefing up a Web site aimed at helping people monitor their home energy use and pinpoint ways to cut costs.

The site, called Hohm, launched last summer. People can enter details about their home, such as when it was built and what kind of heating system and thermostat it has.

Hohm can also be hooked up to users' utility accounts, though so far this only works in some areas of Washington, California and the Midwest. Microsoft models year-round weather conditions and other factors using a mix of its own software and research from the U.S. Department of Energy and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory to come up with a picture of how much energy a home uses. The more data the system has, the more accurate its estimates would be for how much someone would save by installing a , for example.

Starting Wednesday, Microsoft is adding real estate data to its calculations and assigning a Hohm score to most houses in the U.S., so people can compare their home to their neighbors' or scout one they're thinking of buying. The scale goes from one (think of running the heat full blast with the windows open, for starters) to 100 (energy-efficient sainthood ).

For now, Hohm seems of limited use. After all, there are countless Web sites that tell me to replace my , wrap a special blanket around my hot water heater and insulate the attic.

The idea gets more interesting when all the appliances and outlets in the house can talk to the Internet and feed data into a site like Hohm. Troy Batterberry, who leads the Hohm team at Microsoft, says people could then use the site to see their energy costs broken down in much finer detail.

Batterberry also hopes Hohm will be part of a "smart grid." Microsoft could feed aggregated data to power companies to help them understand and predict usage, which would help control costs. People could also use Hohm to set up appliances to run when energy prices are lower.

Microsoft hopes Hohm will eventually make money from targeted ads on the site - local contractors who install insulation, maybe - and by charging utilities for data about customers' usage.

Explore further: A platform to help consumers achieve sustainable energy consumption

More information: http://www.microsoft-hohm.com

not rated yet
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Ford, Microsoft to work on electric-car charging

Mar 31, 2010

(AP) -- Ford Motor Co. and Microsoft Corp. have signed a deal to work together on a computerized link between houses, electric cars and utility companies to help manage energy use.

General Electric Plans Net-Zero Energy Home by 2015

Jul 16, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- Using solar panels, wind turbines, appliance monitoring, and on-site energy storage, General Electric has a plan to enable homeowners to cut their annual energy consumption (from the electric ...

Recommended for you

Image: Testing electric propulsion

Aug 20, 2014

On Aug. 19, National Aviation Day, a lot of people are reflecting on how far aviation has come in the last century. Could this be the future – a plane with many electric motors that can hover like a helicopter ...

Where's the real value in Tesla's patent pledge?

Aug 20, 2014

With the much-anticipated arrival next month of electric vehicle manufacturer Tesla's Model S to Australian shores, it's a good time to revisit Tesla's pledge to freely share patents. ...

New type of solar concentrator doesn't block the view

Aug 19, 2014

(Phys.org) —A team of researchers at Michigan State University has developed a new type of solar concentrator that when placed over a window creates solar energy while allowing people to actually see through ...

User comments : 0