Using one of the most clever names in tech history, Microsoft has announced Hohm (which telescopes home into ohm), a new Web-based service for keeping an eye on your smart grid. The beta for the service goes live next week; users can sign up to access the service at

With Hohm, consumers can see how they are currently using energy in their home, and then, if necessary, change their routine based on what Hohm shows them. A recommendation system shows how you can reduce energy with certain appliances and devices. For example, you might see that using a washing machine at night would save money over daytime use. Historical data is available too, to show energy usage from previous months and years, with easy-to-read bar charts. There’s also a trend engine to compare appliances, lighting, and power use for electronics in your home.

The Web-based application — which will run in any browser — was developed in collaboration with Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the U.S. Department of Energy, using algorithms that analyze power usage and can identify potential savings. Hohm gets its data directly from utility companies; competing services, like EnerNOC and Google’s PowerMeter, communicate with smart power meters directly instead. Microsoft plans to offer smart-grid sensors in future versions.

At launch time, Hohm will work with just four utility companies: Puget Sound Energy, Seattle City Light, Sacramento Municipal Utility District, and Xcel Energy in the midwest. Half a dozen more are expected to be rolled out within the year.