Microsoft wants you to plug yourself into its new technology. Debuting today is Microsoft's new Hohm beta, which promises to provide homeowners with means to manage and track power usage in their homes. The tool is a public beta so it's free for anyone to sign up for and try.
Power bills comprise a major expense for many homeowners. For owners of small properties such as condominiums, U.S. power bills can be as little as $100 or less a month. For owners of larger homes, power bills can soar to over $300 or more a month, though. Power has variable costs, so if homeowners were able to run power-hungry appliances during lulls when power was cheaper, it would both ease stress on the aging power grid and cut their bills substantially.
This is the aim of new power meter technology from Microsoft, which will compete with Google's PowerMeter, the first such solution to hit the market. Currently, the system does not physically connect to your power meter or appliances -- rather it takes in input such as your power bills and home information and uses it to generate suggestions.
The project is still in its infancy. Explains Michaeljon Miller, software architect for Microsoft Hohm, "The team's been sitting in a conference room on campus since about 5:30 this morning watching things spin up. Considering this is the first major web application that most of the team has shipped, things went extremely well."
With Google already partnering with power meter manufacturers and utilities and beginning to deploy smart meters, don't expect Microsoft to wait long before taking the project up another notch. The project currently is only available in the U.S.