T&D World Magazine

Consumers Still Have Options After Google, Microsoft Discontinue Energy Managers

Opening up opportunities for smaller market players, Microsoft and Google pulled the plug on their home energy monitoring programs last month. Google announced that PowerMeter would be retired on Sept. 16. Touted as a free energy monitoring tool that helps you save energy and money, PowerMeter did not scale “as quickly as we would have liked,” Google said.

Just days later, Microsoft announced it was pulling the plug on Hohm, an online web application that enables consumers to analyze their energy usage and provides energy saving recommendations. Microsoft is discontinuing the service effective May 31, 2012. Microsoft launched the application two years ago.

“The feedback from customers and partners has remained encouraging throughout Microsoft Hohm’s beta period,” Microsoft said. “However, due to the slow overall market adoption of the service, we are instead focusing our efforts on products and solutions more capable of supporting long-standing growth within this evolving market.”

Many in the blogosphere have offered their opinions as to why PowerMeter and Hohm failed. Are consumers really not interested in saving energy and money? Was it marketing, or were they too early to market? Did they even work right?

Microsoft and Google are huge, so they did not focus on such small projects, in their opinion, to be able to substantially grow them. Other companies that specialize in energy management may have better success in marketing home energy management products to consumers.

Companies such as Cisco, WattVision, The Energy Detective, and Control4 offer energy management products.

Not only that, but individual utilities are already offering energy management programs to a certain extent. Although I tried my utility’s program and didn’t have much success. Announcements keep coming about utilities’ offering real-time usage data on websites. For example, Con Edison has added APOGEE’s online tools to its website as part of its “The Power of Green” campaign, to help customers evaluate their energy use and find ways to save on their energy costs. EnerNOC is enabling SCE customers to receive all metering and monitoring equipment, as well as the first year of energy-efficiency data analytics and reporting. This fall, 800 Arizona Public Service customers will embark on a Home Energy Information Pilot to find out if seeing is conserving.

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