Across America homeowners are increasingly interested in ways to understand and manage their home energy costs. Building on this momentum, Microsoft recently unveiled its Hohm software , which allows homeowners to understand the energy use of their homes, compare to neighbors, and discover opportunities to save money on utility bills by lowering their energy usage. Unlike Google’s Power Meter which uses actual information garnered from utility smart meters and energy monitoring devices, Hohm takes information from a few simple questions – including your zip code, the size of your home, and the year it was built – to provide an overview of annual energy usage and estimated energy costs.
Hohm then generates a free energy report based on your answers. The report can help identify ways to make your home more energy efficient, estimating what your potential cost savings may be by investing in efficiency improvements. The Hohm service is free, though it only connects automatically to actual electricity usage data for 4 million customers on the West Coast as of yet. Homes outside this service are receive energy reports drawing on averages rather than property-specific information. According to the Hohm database, a typical home in Berea, Kentucky can save up to $1,736 each year—achieved mostly through reduction in heating costs, likely from better insulation and efficient windows.
The potential for improvements in efficiency and cost is particularly great throughout Central Appalachia. This map shows that Central Appalachia in particular, and the Southeast more generally, has some of the lowest efficiency throughout the country – resulting in the lowest Hohm score according to Microsoft’s program. According to the Hohm website, “if all 60m homes in our database improved ten points in their Hohm score, we could collectively save $16 billion in energy costs annually, or about $250 a year per home”. Central Appalachian homes are a great place to start given the significant opportunities to make improvements across our region.
By providing this type of information to consumers, companies like Microsoft and Google hope to empower consumers to take a more active role in managing their energy consumption, and thus, utility bills. While the information provided by both Google’s Power Meter and Microsoft’s Hohm tools track current usage and potential energy savings, professionals are being trained throughout our region to conduct a tailored assessment of your property, identifying specific measures you can take to improve the efficiency of your home and lower your utility bills. For more information about this program in Kentucky, go to Kentucky Home Performance.