Microsoft Looks to Peer Pressure for Energy Tool Hohm

Shame, guilt, and embarrassment are always good tools to change people’s behavior. This morning Microsoft (s MSFT) added a “score” functionality to its energy management tool Hohm, which gives a Hohm score to every address entered based on how energy efficient the building is. Users can use that score to compare it to their neighborhood, state and across the U.S.

Hohm’s score is tallied using publicly available data — like real estate info, weather patterns and average utility bills, — and then is put through algorithms, which Microsoft licensed from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the Department of Energy, to predict the energy consumption of a home. The Hohm score can be tweaked by users that want to add in more detailed information about their own home and users that are customers of utilities Seattle City Light, Sacramento Municipal Utility District and Xcel Energy can also link in real, billed, energy consumption data for an even more accurate score.

It’s pretty fun to check out scores of any address you feel like looking at: your home, work, friend’s house, ex-boyfriend’s house, public buildings. While Hohm didn’t have information for all of the addresses I entered, it was able to spit out scores for quite a number of ’em without me having to add in any additional info beyond the address.

The scores were generally not so pretty. As Microsoft’s general manager Troy Batterberry says in the release the average Hohm Score in the U.S. is a 61 — or “a failing grade.” Hawaii had the highest average state score at 81 and Texas had the lowest average state score with 51.

Using the power of the group to help change people’s energy consumption isn’t a new concept. Most of the startups building energy management software are adding in this element — Lucid Design Group launched a social network based around building energy consumption last month. Efficiency 2.0 and OPower have built their startups around the concept of social networking and group comparisons. But Microsoft’s new Hohm scores will be able to take the concept on energy comparison to an even wider audience.

Check out the video below of my discussion with Microsoft’s Batterberry and Google’s head of PowerMeter Ed Lu:

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