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Microsoft Hohm Off to Rocky Start

Energy management tool was weak to begin with, and the beta site that launched today is buggy. Get energy info, but only if you agree to receive ads.


Wow! Great tip!
Julie Jacobson · July 6, 2009

Microsoft Hohm: Am I missing something? It’s a new Web application that supposedly helps consumers save energy.

Microsoft tells us the beta site is now live – but when I try to go there (http://www.microsoft-hohm.com) it takes me to Bing.com, the company’s new search engine. Is it a bug or an elaborate ploy to promote Bing? (After all, Microsoft officials say that the business model for Hohm is to generate contextual ad revenues.)

[UPDATE: Bug is fixed]

In all fairness, Hohm is still in beta testing, so we’ll let this bug slide, but I’m not feeling too hopeful about the overall usefulness of the site.

Microsoft thinks the tool “will play a pivotal role in tackling the global energy issues ….”

I just see it as a list of suggestions on how to save energy, like replacing incandescent lights with CFLs and getting your ducts professionally cleaned.

Whoop di woo.

Currently it’s not tied to smart meters, smart grids or anything particularly smart except for a few algorithms that explain just how much those CFLs will save you, based on the size of your home.

By the way, I haven’t had a single CFL last for more than about 18 months. So much for savings.

UPDATE: OK, now I’m trying to use Hohm since the bug is fixed. What’s this?!

To get started using Microsoft Hohm you will need to create a Windows Live ID if you don’t already have one. You will need to provide an e-mail address, set up your password, and choose a secret question and answer.

Uncool.

But I bit anyway, and checked the box (mandatory) that says I agree to let Microsoft spam me with ads (in so many words).

What followed was an incredibly long, onerous questionnaire that asked me everything from the size of my water heater to the number of feet from my well pump to the house, to the square footage of the windows on the north side of my house ... and west side ... and east ... and south.

After 30 minutes filling out the survey I was still only 60% complete and finally skipped to the end.

The end was my own personal “Energy Profile” which suggested I do things like replace my current refrigerator/freezer with an Energy Star model (61 year payback), and increase the insulation of my attic floor (I have no attic).

I know Microsoft has a roadmap for this thing and the Hohm Web site is just the beginning, but I cannot recommend that users spend an hour filling out the survey and agree to accept advertisements for the privilege.

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And Microsoft requires this information to help me save energy?


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Get energy info, but only if you agree to receive ads.


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This is some of the sage personalized (!) advice I received after spending 30 minutes filling out my home profile (number of feet from your well pump to your home, capacity of your water heater, square footage of windows for entire home ... I only got through about 60% of the profile.



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  About the Author

Julie Jacobson is founding editor of CE Pro, the leading media brand for the home-technology channel. She has covered the smart-home industry since 1994, long before there was much of an Internet, let alone an Internet of things. Currently she studies, speaks, writes and rabble-rouses in the areas of home automation, security, networked A/V, wellness-related technology, biophilic design, and the business of home technology. Julie majored in Economics at the University of Michigan, spent a year abroad at Cambridge University, and earned an MBA from the University of Texas at Austin. She is a recipient of the annual CTA TechHome Leadership Award, and a CEDIA Fellows honoree. A washed-up Ultimate Frisbee player, Julie currently resides in San Antonio, Texas and sometimes St. Paul, Minn. Follow on Twitter: @juliejacobson Email Julie at julie.jacobson@emeraldexpo.com

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