Google has been releasing information on their smart meter management software called PowerMeter little by little, but we've yet to see a fully-completed product. Microsoft is hoping to steal some of their thunder by releasing a beta version of their energy management software, Hohm, this week and, at least appearance-wise, it has Google beat.
The web-based software allows users to monitor and control their energy use by logging into the Hohm website with their Windows Live ID and zip code. Based on that information, the software makes estimates of their home energy use and allows the user to enter specific information by answering any or all of 180 questions, with each answer making the numbers more accurate.
So far the software is only available for use by a few utilities - Xcel Energy, Sacramento Municipal Utility District, Seattle City Light and Puget Sound Energy - with more in line to start using it soon. If you happen to live in one of the areas serviced by the list above, your energy use information will be even more comprehensive with historical data available from the utility.
The software will be smart meter-compatible as soon as any of its utility partners begin using them.
Eventually, the software will be used in connection with electric vehicle charging and grid demand management, but those more delux features will likely come with a price. Microsoft has made clear that this software is a product like any other they've created and as it's further developed, cost will start being a factor. For now, at least while it's in beta, the energy managment tool is free.