Microsoft Hohm Aims to Help Consumers Save Power

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In a slightly unusual move for the Redmond software giant, Microsoft has introduced a beta of a new free service called Microsoft Hohm, designed to help educate consumers about their power and electricity use and provide recommendations to help them save money on their power and utility costs. The beta service is free to anyone in the U.S.—but to gain access, users must surrender their email addresses, follow Microsoft Hohm on Twitter, or become Hohm’s “friend” on Facebook.

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

Microsoft Hohm reportedly uses sophisticated algorithms to analyze information users provider about their power usage, combined with information provided by participating utility operators. The service then offers recommendations that can help users save money and reduce their energy consumption, such as installing programmable thermostats, replacing appliances, replacing windows, or even installing solar panels.

Microsoft has tied Hohm into both Bing search and its Microsoft Advertising platform…so there’s a possibility that if the service recommends an Energy Star-compliant refrigerator, the service could happily recommend Microsoft advertising partners offering those appliances. Microsoft plans to add the capability for customers of participating utilities to automatically have their utility information uploaded to the application for ongoing analysis.

Microsoft has built Hohm using its Azure cloud operating system, and says an SDK is available for utilities that want to participate in the service.