Microsoft Hohm Gets Green Light for Launch

Microsoft launches Hohm, a Website for monitoring and regulating home energy consumption. Hohm is designed for consumers, but Microsoft has also created a green IT application for energy monitoring within the enterprise, competing with Google's PowerMeter software tool.

Microsoft launched Hohm, its Website for consumers looking to monitor and regulate energy consumption in their homes, on July 6. The site is a component of a larger Microsoft "green IT" initiative that includes the company's Environmental Sustainability Dashboard for Microsoft Dynamics AX, launched in February.

Based on information provided by users, Hohm performs calculations and makes recommendations about how to adjust energy usage in order to save money. Hohm's analytics for performing those recommendations have been licensed from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the Department of Energy.

"The team's been sitting in a conference room on campus since about 5:30 this morning watching things spin up," Mike Miller, the software architect for Microsoft Hohm, wrote in a July 6 posting on the Microsoft Developer Network. "We're triaging other issues, but so far there have been no show-stopper bugs and no reason for any of the dev team to stay late tonight."

Originally code-named Niagara, after the birthplace of modern electricity and one of Nikola Tesla's experimental sites, Hohm can run on any Internet browser, including Internet Explorer, Firefox or Safari. Users are first asked for a postal code and e-mail address, and if they have a Microsoft Live account, Hohm will import information from there; from that point, the site can offer a far more granular analysis of energy use based on nearly 200 questions such as, "What type of energy does your water heater use?"

As part of the effort, Microsoft has partnered with four utility companies to allow their customers' energy consumption information to be automatically uploaded to Hohm for digestion. Six more utilities are expected to be added by the end of 2009.

While Hohm is intended for consumers-particularly those who own homes as opposed to living in apartments or condos-throughout 2009 Microsoft has released other green IT applications for the enterprise.

As previously mentioned, in February Microsoft launched its Environmental Sustainability Dashboard for Microsoft Dynamics AX, designed to assist executives and IT administrators in monitoring energy costs, gas emissions and other contributors to a business' carbon footprint.

The Environmental Sustainability Dashboard allows enterprises to input data across a wide spectrum of topics and metrics, and to view customizable environmental information such as "Greenhouse Gas Emissions" and "Energy Consumption."

Microsoft's green IT initiatives can be seen as direct competition to Google's PowerMeter software tool, which measures home energy consumption in near-real time. PowerMeter requires "smart" metering devices installed by a utility, necessitating Google's partnering with power companies in California, Texas, Florida, India, Wisconsin, Missouri, Canada and Kentucky.