Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT) believes there’s a largely untapped market in home energy monitoring, so it’s launching Hohm, an online application that provides recommendations for how consumers can save energy. Hohm asks users questions about their energy use and then provides specific suggestions for how they can cut back. Microsoft has also reached deals with several utilities — mostly in the Seattle area — so that data about a user’s energy usage can be uploaded automatically. Google (NSDQ: GOOG) has a similar product — Powermeter — but it’s not widely available and requires a customer’s utility company to be signed up. Microsoft chief strategy officer Craig Mundie tells CNET that Microsoft is focusing on the home market because most businesses are already conducting energy audits. (Microsoft also cites data showing that the vast majority of consumers in the U.S. would sign up for an energy program).
For now, Microsoft isn’t charging for Hohm. However, it’s linked with Microsoft Advertising, so it’s likely that Microsoft will run ads in the application. Mundie says that Microsoft could also make money by linking customers to products that would help them save. In an interview with ZDNet’s Mary Jo Foley, Hohm product manager Troy Balterberry also suggests that the company could perhaps incorporate some sort of energy tools into its revamped search engine, dubbed Bing, which Microsoft is promoting as a way to help people make decisions.