The Developer Guide to Home Energy Management Apps

What happens when the bright minds that make up Google’s (s GOOG) and Microsoft’s (s MSFT) developer communities get their hands on open software tools focused on energy?: the hope, by many, is some much-needed innovation in the energy industry. This week Google officially opened up the API (application programming interface) of its web energy tool PowerMeter, and Microsoft recently told us it has just released a software developer kit for its energy tool Hohm to a select number of gadget makers.

These moves by the web giants show that the era of open energy information is slowing coming. But will that lead to innovation, which can deliver applications and hardware that can convince consumers to curb their energy consumption? One crucial aspect will be how the developer community responds — on GigaOM Pro I looked at some of the important aspects that developers need to consider when looking to create applications and gadgets based on home energy management platforms (subscription required).

At the top of the list are: how to get the energy information to input into your application (with patience and creativity), how to deal with privacy and security concerns, and how to deal with standards issues.

Clearly it’s still very early days for energy information and the consumer. Mainstream consumers are largely not yet interested in buying home energy management gadgets, and PowerMeter has only signed up a couple thousand users.

And the landscape is also changing for energy information. The California Public Utilities Commission has said that it wants California’s investor-owned utilities to give their customers and approved third parties — which could include Google, Microsoft or other makers of energy data portals — access to the smart meter data collected in utilities’ back office servers by the end of 2010. By the end of 2011, the CPUC wants the utilities to provide customers and approved third parties with “near real-time” data from smart meters. This is still under development and the CPUC is holding a workshop later this month.

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