Thursday, June 03, 2010

snoop on your neighbor's energy use?

Fast Company | Ever wished you could find out whether your eco-obsessed neighbor is really an energy hog? Enter Microsoft's Hohm Scores, an online tool that allows you to view energy efficiency data about a specific home address. There are already 60 million homes listed in the database, and results can be compared to averages of other homes in the neighborhood and across the U.S.

Hohm Scores gets its information from a mashup of public records, including information about a home’s size, age, location, and average utility bills. Add in data about local weather patterns and some advanced analytics from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the U.S. Department of Energy, and voila, the tool can tell you just how energy efficient your home is--and how efficient it could be with a few home improvements.

Hohm provides an energy efficiency rating of 0 to 100 for each home. "Users can update the info that's driving their score and improve accuracy," says Troy Batterberry, general manager for Hohm, in an interview with So if you add insulation or fix up the windows, you can input your updated information and get a higher score.

Hohm Scores doesn't yet sync up to smart meters, and it can't provide information for apartment dwellers, either. But Batterberry tells us there are many other Hohm Scores improvements in the pipeline: "Users will also the have ability to provide info and publish their home score even if their home isn't already in the database."

The real goal for all of this is presumably to encourage Hohm Scores users to sign up for Microsoft's Hohm energy management system. And there's no denying that offering people the ability to snoop on their neighbors is a savvy marketing tool--even if it does raise some privacy questions. Fist tap Chando.


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