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Like other large software and hardware providers, Microsoft has a business unit focused on selling to utilities, many of which are investing to make energy delivery more efficient.
Part of that effort includes Hohm, a web application for consumers to track energy use and get recommendations on how to improve efficiency at home.
Microsoft has signed a few deals with utilities to feed energy usage directly into Hohm, but it's also trying to connect to home energy monitors that don't require a smart meter. Earlier this year, it announced a deal with the maker of the PowerCost Monitor, which is now making a wi-fi gateway to transmit electric meter data to Hohm via a home broadband connection. People can view real-time electricity usage and get historical data to better understand how much different energy appliances use.
Photo credit: Martin LaMonica/CNET
Competing neck-and-neck with Microsoft for web-based home energy monitoring is Google. Its PowerMeter web application gives people a real-time read-out of electricity usage and, with the aid of a smart meter, can give details on what different 'plug loads' - appliances and electronics - use in a home.
Google says that it intends to expand the capabilities of PowerMeter over time to monitor gas and water, to potentially schedule electric vehicle charging and participate in utility demand response programmes.
Photo credit: Google
Cisco is aggressively moving into the smart grid with an array of products, including networking gear for substations and datacentre equipment to process data coming in from sensors and smart meters on the electric grid. In September it bought wireless sensor company Arch Rock, which is expected to become part of its grid networking product line.
One of Cisco's big utility deals is with US company Duke Energy, through which it's supplying networking equipment as well as a home energy controller, pictured here. It's one of several home energy management systems geared at giving consumers more data on energy usage and electricity rates as they change during the day.
Photo credit: Cisco