REDMOND, Wash. – May 26, 2010 – Starting today, millions of people will be able to visit www.microsoft-hohm.com and see instantly whether they are an energy hog or energy miser.
Hohm Scores give homeowners a quick way to compare their estimated energy use with the average in their neighborhood and across the U.S.
Hohm Scores are the newest feature of Microsoft Hohm – the free online service that helps people make smarter decisions about their home energy use. Hohm Scores estimate the energy efficiency for more than 60 million United States homes. Simply by entering a home address, anyone can compare their energy use to the average of other households in their neighborhood, or across the country.
Hohm Scores are calculated using public record information about a home’s size, age and location. It then adds in data about typical weather patterns for that area, average utility bills, and more. Finally, Hohm Scores apply advanced analytics licensed from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the U.S. Department of Energy. Those analytics help calculate a home’s likely energy use. The end result is an assessment of a home’s energy use, ranking it on a 1-100 scale (100 being perfect energy efficiency).
Hohm Scores makes it easy to understand your energy consumption and compare it to that of others.
This is the first time a consumer has had access to national information about how other households are performing energy-wise, says Troy Batterberry, general manager for Hohm. “The big deal here is that we built the Hohm Score to answer a simple question: Am I an energy hog or an energy miser?” he says. “Now you can take a look at your own home’s score – or any home across the country – and see how you compare.”
Hohm Scores can “learn” about a home to create even more detailed energy profiles. Online questions about heating habits, or home features such as storm windows or upgraded insulation, allow Hohm to fine-tune the score it assigns a house. Also, people living in the service areas of utility companies Seattle City Light, Sacramento (Calif.) Municipal Utility District, and Xcel Energy (eight states in the Midwest and West) can link their energy bills to a private Hohm page automatically. People outside these service areas can manually enter their energy use data. This allows Hohm to develop even more detailed rankings.
The payoff is that Hohm can then recommend ways to trim energy usage – from simple things like caulking windows and using cold water to wash your clothes to bigger projects like adding insulation or replacing windows. “Someone could easily save $200, $300, $400 a year just by taking advantage of some of the more basic recommendations we offer you with Hohm,” says Batterberry.
Troy Batterberry, general manager for Microsoft Hohm.
In addition to offering an immediate benefit to a homeowner – lower energy costs – Home Scores also help reduce energy use and the need for new power plants and other facilities that may lead to global warming, says Batterberry. Soon the Hohm site will offer information on the impact across the United States if all households, say, switch to compact fluorescent light bulbs, or set their thermostats down two degrees.
Hohm Scores are also social. Hohm users can log in using a secure password for access to a private profile page. But they also have the option to share any changes they make to their Hohm score with others to show how they are doing.
In addition to their usefulness as a household planning tool, Hohm and Hohm Scores also demonstrate the power of the cloud. Both are built using the Windows Azure platform, Microsoft’s cloud-based computing platform that easily scales up to accommodate huge amounts of data and process it with super-computing resources. Azure also enables Hohm to collect and process information from a wide geographic area and millions of households. “Using Azure as the backbone for Hohm Scores was essential to our ability to execute,” says Batterberry.