Microsoft has today unveiled a new web service designed to help users manage and track power usage of their houses, which they've called (cleverly) Hohm. According to Ars Technica, it'll utilize smart grid technology to get data on energy use when available, although even if it's not, users can put their own details in and then even share results.
Microsoft describes their service as, "Microsoft Hohm is a free online beta application that helps you save energy and money. With Microsoft Hohm you can better understand your home energy usage, get recommendations to conserve energy and start saving. As with any recommendation engine, Hohm will provide increasingly more accurate and relevant suggestions for energy conservation as its users contribute home energy input and feedback. One of the objectives during our beta period is to refine our tool and further increase the value our product can offer to you. As you may know, other companies have introduced similar services; Google has their own offering, as well as Cisco, so having Microsoft in the game will certainly help push them to progress their products. Hohm is, currently, four utility partners have signed up with Microsoft (Puget Sound Energy, the Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD), Seattle City Light and Xcel Energy), but they will be adding more in the future.
Once users start building up data, Hohm will begin providing recommendations on how to improve energy usage and bring it down, as you'd expect. The idea behind these services is relatively simple, and similar to that of the dashboard on a Prius; if you show a user how much they're actually using, it will bring the desire to draw it down. If you're interested in giving this a go, you can request an invitation to the beta here.