Microsoft Enters the Smart Hohm

[qi:_earth2tech] As Earth2Tech pointed out earlier this week, everyone and their mother is building home energy management tools these days, including Google. Today, Microsoft unveiled its new home energy management software: Hohm (not to be confused with Sprint’s WiMAX network, Xohm). Announced this morning by Microsoft Chief Strategy and Research Officer Craig Mundie at the Edison Electric Institute conference in San Francisco, the online software will enable consumers to monitor and manage home energy consumption.

Microsoft has spent the last two years working on Hohm, and it’s actually pretty impressive, primarily because the company has partnered with a number of utilities (among them Xcel Energy, Sacramento Municipal Utility District, Seattle City Light and Puget Sound Energy) to incorporate consumers’ historical energy consumption data.

Here’s how Hohm’s basic level works: A consumer logs into the Hohm site, entering as little information as their Windows Live ID and their zip code. Taking this simple location information, Hohm uses algorithms licensed from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the Department of Energy to start predicting the consumer’s home energy consumption. For the most accurate predictions possible, the consumer can answer up to 180 questions, ranging in topic from home size to water heater brand. Hohm will incorporate smart meter data as such tools are installed and used.

Google has been making a lot of noise about its energy management tool, PowerMeter, but it still has yet to launch and at this point is focused more on smart meter data. Hohm, which will be available this week, could end up giving it a real run for its money.