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6/24/2009
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Microsoft Hohm Cuts Power Bills

The software maker's new Web tool helps users reduce electricity use.

Microsoft on Wednesday launched a Web service that allows consumers to track their home energy usage and offers ways to help them reduce power consumption.

The online Hohm application relies on an advanced analytics engine, developed by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the U.S. Department of Energy, to generate money-saving ideas and other feedback based on the information consumers provide.

"We believe technology will play a pivotal role in tackling the global energy issues we currently face," said Craig Mundie, chief research and strategy officer at Microsoft, 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."

Hohm is designed to receive data inputs directly from energy companies' smart meters. Microsoft so far has partnered with Puget Sound Energy, the Sacramento Municipal Utility District, Seattle City Light, and Xcel Energy to create compatible offerings.

Microsoft is offering a software development kit to other utilities that want to participate.

Hohm can offer numerous conservation recommendations, from sealing windows to installing a programmable thermostat. The suggestions are based on the user's individual circumstances. Hohm can also make recommendations based on local and national usage data.

Hohm, one of the first major offerings to run off of Microsoft's Azure cloud operating system, also provides a tool that consumers can use to compare their electrical consumption with others in their area.

Microsoft isn't the only Web giant to offer energy conservation tools.

Google earlier this year launched PowerMeter, a downloadable gadget that lets users monitor their power usage from their desktop. Like Hohm, the tool relies on energy companies' smart meters as a data source. Google has partnered with several regional utilities on the project.

Microsoft shares were up 1.33%, to $23.65, in early-afternoon trading Wednesday.

InformationWeek Analytics has published an independent analysis of the next-generation Web applications. Download the report here (registration required).

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