Feeding Real-Time Data to Microsoft’s Hohm
In areas where Microsoft has established partnerships with utilities to provide data for Hohm, the company’s Internet-based energy management service, participating homeowners can easily compare their monthly energy use to that of their neighbors.
That’s one of the basic features of Hohm (and it’s the type of information that can introduce a bit of peer pressure among homeowners to lower their energy usage at least to the community average). Hohm works by assimilating information about the household’s location, monthly energy bill data, number of occupants, square footage, and other particulars. The more information provided, Microsoft says, the more precise Hohm’s recommendations for energy savings are likely to be.
Recently, though, Microsoft announced an add-on device, developed by Microsoft partner Blue Line Innovations, to help feed the data-hungry service even further: the PowerCost Monitor, which tracks power usage in real time and, via WiFi hookup, sends the data to the homeowner’s Hohm account.
Hohm’s effectiveness is of course predicated on users responding to information the service provides. The stream of data delivered by a PowerCost is intended to help motivate homeowners and direct them to the most cost-effective methods for trimming power use. Blue Line says diligent use of PowerCost can reduce power usage by as much as 18%. Savings using Hohm vary from market to market; in New York, for example, Hohm users can shave as much as 33% off annual electric bills, the company says.
Access to Hohm is free, although the PowerCost Monitor is not. If purchased with an optional WiFi Gateway, it comes to about $250. But Microsoft is betting that the diligent Hohm user can offset that cost fairly quickly.