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Summary:

Microsoft and Google are both working on applications for monitoring and controlling energy usage in the home. At Green:Net, the Internet giants laid out their strategies for enabling consumers and utilities to keep track of their power consumption.

Microsoft and Google are both working on applications for monitoring and controlling energy usage in the home. At today’s Green:Net conference, the Internet giants laid out their strategies for enabling consumers and utilities to keep track of their power consumption.

Edward Lu, program manager in Advanced Projects at Google, said that his company isn’t looking to monetize its PowerMeter — yet. For now, the company is more focused on getting the PowerMeter application embedded in more devices, launching an API to enable device manufacturers and chipmakers to add support for the tool.

“Google built an entire company around giving consumers access to data, and power is just one more piece of that data,” Lu said. “When Larry and Sergey began work on search algorithms, there was no business model.”

But while Google’s project is still in experiment mode, rival Microsoft is moving ahead on plans to make a business out of its Hohm energy management tool. Troy Batterberry, product unit manager for Microsoft Hohm, said the software giant is also partnering with device makers and even car manufacturers. Microsoft announced a deal with Ford earlier this year to enable smart charging for electric vehicles.

For both firms, their plans extend beyond just consumer education and into working with local utilities, enabling them to better manage energy distribution. Lu said that Google has announced partnerships with 10 utilities, and has many more partners that have not yet been announced. Microsoft, too, is trying to help energy firms deal with regulations and peaks in energy demand.

On the consumer side, both say interest among users is strong. Batterberry said Hohm helps consumers not just to monitor consumption, but to be able to compare their usage to their peers, which often drives lower usage. And Lu said engagement for users of its PowerMeter is extremely high — according to him, 46 percent look at their data three times or more per day, and 86 percent view the data at least once every three days.

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