Kate Mackenzie Microsoft enters the power meter software fray with Hohm

Microsoft is the latest tech heavyweight to enter the world of energy with its free monitoring software Hohm.

ReadWriteWeb notes it is similar to Google’s Power Meter in that it will hook into data from smart meters, allowing households to monitor and reduce or smooth out energy use.

Update: Microsoft have contacted us and ReadWriteWeb to say the above comment is not correct – utilities can allow their customers to make use of the software even without smart meters in place, by making their existing customer usage data available via Hohm, even if it is not collected in real-time.

Ultimately it could be used by utilities to manage their own peaks by switching off appliances remotely during peak times, in exchange for offering some sort of saving on energy bills. Google has already picked up a handful of utility partners and Microsoft so far has four, according to ReadWriteWeb: Puget Sound Energy, Sacramento Municipal Utility District, Seattle City Light, and Xcel Energy.

This comment about the business model from CNet caught our eye:

Initially, the company plans to sell contextual ads to make some revenue. Down the road, however, Microsoft anticipates that it can become a sort of information broker between customers and utilities looking for ways to improve the efficiency of their customers.

Until utilities bring their smart grids and smart meters online, Hohm offers a reckoner of individuals’ energy use – they can fill in a 200-question survey if desired.

Related links:

Hohm: Microsoft gets into the energy business (ReadWriteWeb, 23/06/09)
Microsoft dials Hohm to cute energy use (CNet, 23/06/09)
PowerMeter: Everyone loves a good Google theory (FT Energy Source, 11/02/09)