Don’t Confuse Home Energy ‘Management’ with ‘Monitoring’

Few people may care about monitoring their energy usage, but plenty embrace the management of energy via automated thermostats and lighting.

Microsoft Hohm (pictured) and Google PowerMeter were not Home Energy Management systems (the useful HEM); they were Home Energy Monitoring systems (the less-useful HEM).
Julie Jacobson · July 11, 2011

When both Google and Microsoft dropped their home energy initiatives earlier this month, many pundits proclaimed the death of home energy management (HEM).

For example, in an article that has one of the best titles I’ve ever seen – Home Energy Management: Premature Jocularity – Richard Stuebi of CleantechBlog writes:

At best, HEM is an idea before its time, dependent upon smart meters and other so-called “smart grid” technologies to enable a lot of the highest-value functionality of HEM.  At worst, HEM is an idea whose time will never come — simply because most households simply don’t care that much about energy — and won’t spend a lot of time to save a few bucks on their energy bills, preferring to spend that incremental hour playing a video game or surfing social media.

But pundits like Stuebi have it wrong. HEM as we know it has been alive for two decades and thriving for the past few years. It represents the management of a home’s thermostats and lighting (and more) for comfort and savings.

What the death of Google PowerMeter and Microsoft Hohm may portend is the end of energy monitoring.

As I suggested upon the demise of those initiatives, most people really don’t want to check in with their energy dashboards to see how this week’s usage compares to last week’s, and how well they fare compared to their neighbors. That’s about all that Hohm and PowerMeter gave us.

Eventually, we’ll be able to tap into utilities’ real-time rates, and have our energy-sucking appliances respond accordingly—automatically, without us having to open a Web browser, check the rates, and then manually set back the thermostat.

Even then, the value of energy monitoring may be nominal at best. Why not just spend $1,000 today to automate thermostats and lights, tying them to your security system and time of day (set back during AWAY or GOODNIGHT).

It’s relatively simple and painless compared to all this monitoring stuff.

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  About the Author

Julie Jacobson, recipient of the 2014 CEA TechHome Leadership Award, is co-founder of EH Publishing, producer of CE Pro, Electronic House, Commercial Integrator, Security Sales and other leading technology publications. She currently spends most of her time writing for CE Pro in the areas of home automation, security, networked A/V and the business of home systems integration. Julie majored in Economics at the University of Michigan, spent a year abroad at Cambridge University, earned an MBA from the University of Texas at Austin, and has never taken a journalism class in her life. She's a washed-up Ultimate Frisbee player currently residing in Carlsbad, Calif. Email Julie at

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  Article Topics

Blogs · Google · Hohm · Microsoft · PowerMeter · All Topics
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