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Microsoft and Google Want up In Your Green Business

The Question is – Do you want them there?

First and foremost let me start this out by stating emphatically that Americans consume and waste ENTIRELY too much electricity!  It’s not just the additional fridges, ipods, gadgets (you know like lotion warmers and baby wipe warmers), big TV’s, multiple computers, etc… it’s also just plain lack of awareness about how to manage your homes usage more efficiently with little impact on your daily routine and quality of life.  That’s where Microsoft and Google are vying to become your Green Big Brother.

Both have been around less than a couple of years and both are working to create partnerships with utilities so that you can then monitor the energy consumption in your home even when you aren’t there.   In general the principle is the same, if your utility has partnered with either of these services then you can automatically create a free account and start looking at your usage.   In addition, both have partnered with technology companies to create smart monitors that fit on your meter and would be compatible with their monitoring systems should your utility not be a partner and very few are, except you lucky (insert plural expletive) on the West Coast.

So Who is the Better Big Brother?

Right now I have to give it to Microsoft Hohm in regards in terms of how comprehensive and open source they are trying to be.   For one thing even if your utility is not a partner they can give you basic info about your home based on industry averages and they will pass along a request from you to your utility to become a partner and/or you can also input your bills manually, answer some questions about your casa, and bada bing you have yourself a new big brother.  Google has only two American utility districts that I can see (San Diego and Jacksonville) and  if you aren’t living in those locations, I can’t seem to find my way in to the Google Power Meter website unless I purchase one of their monitoring devices which at over $200 isn’t a priority for  blogging banter.

Hohm is also set up so you claim your address and compete with those who have claimed theirs to reduce your energy usage, which seems creepy and fun like bobbing for apples.   Hohm also provides suggestions on improvements and steps you can take along the way to continue to whittle a way at your bill.  Both services have blogs and Facebook presence if you just want daily tidbits to reduce your energy consumption but most of what I’ve seen is pretty basic common sense.  If you opt to invest in the energy monitoring device for your meter and your utility is not a partner with Hohm, I guess  that obviously would prevent the comparisons with your neighbors unless they to had one of the devices.

As a Realtor What do I like / not like about either of these services

I have to say frankly that I perceive them both as large corporations being hell bent on world domination and there is some creep factor to them getting any more up in my business that I’m still trying to work through.  However both companies have been extraordinarily successful at  creating useful tools and resources we use every day.   I think from the stand point of being a listing agent, it would be a tremendous tool because I am more and more frequently getting calls requesting utility bills for my listings.   Not only does it give a legitimate perception that a seller is very in tune with his/her own home, it provides the buyer the data that could really help them calculate gross costs to own the home instead of  simply PITI.   Microsoft Hohm also offers this widget that you can add to your website but beware it appears to take traffic from your site.    I am very curious about the Realtor’s Property Resource and whether it will have any kind of functionality similar to this for Realtors to have at their disposal.

I am on the prowl for anyone who has either Google’s service or Hohm’s.  I’d like to know if it creeps you our or not, how accurate it is and  whether the advice they are dispensing is getting you results.  Secondly, for anyone one of you RPR Beta peeps.  I think your supposed to be anonymous but I haven’t heard about a single green feature with the RPR so send me your thoughts by owl.

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Written By

Anna Altic – Village Real Estate Services. I’ve called Nashville home for the last 15 years and have been practicing (practice being the key word here) real estate for just over 6 years. In the fall of 2007, I went to a local German Festival that had a home tour, including a LEED certified property, and I instantly became enamored with the idea of eco friendly living (ok, so I’d had a little beer and the dual flush toilet rocked my world). I have since devoted much of my time and energies in to studying and espousing the benefits of better building technology within our local residential market and my proudest accomplishment thus far has been successfully leading the initiative to get over 25 green features added to our MLS search fields.

16 Comments

16 Comments

  1. Mark Boyd

    August 16, 2010 at 4:26 pm

    Oh man does this ever ring a bell with me! I agree…we Americans DO waste too much electricity. I would add gas (home, not car) to the equation as well. Since it’s just me in my house, 3 years ago I thought it made sense to turn my hot water heater down to its lowest point setting and keep it there. If I need hot water for shower or to do dishes, I turn up the gas and I have hot water in 15 minutes. I feel like a miser even sharing this in a public forum, but doggone it I cut my gas bill more than in HALF doing this. Seriously.

    As for the Google and Microsoft tools and future plans, I’m on the fence. I’m just not comfortable with that kind of intrusive presence. Although they probably have all the information they’d ever want about me via my use of Windows and Gmail. lol

    Cheers!

  2. Nick Bastian

    August 18, 2010 at 7:17 pm

    Interesting. I haven’t seen much about these services but I think they could be pretty useful for many people. The “green” movement is big and these two companies obviously see dollar signs.
    The “save the planet” crowd will like finding ways to conserve energy and the “save a buck” crowd will probably enjoy.. saving a buck.
    Either way, the green is in saving cash for consumers and making cash for providers.

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