Going High-Tech to Track Home Energy Use

Going Green: Money-Savers CBS/iStockphoto

Energy conservation is the next big thing in consumer electronics.

CNET-TV senior editor and "Early Show" contributor Natali Del Conte shared an exclusive look at a software Microsoft is developing that lets you track your family's energy use on the Internet.

Microsoft Hohm, Del Conte said, works with your power company to track and monitor energy use, and give you tips on how to save.

CNET-TV got an exclusive look at the program, and asked the Goddard family in Sacramento, Calif., to test it out.

Catherine Goddard said her family has found a way to save money on laundry by taking their power company's advice to wash laundry at a different time.

Catherine said, "So this is me after 10 o'clock at night doing my laundry. ... I stay up late and I get up early so I can dry it."

Del Conte added the family also hoped to save money by replacing their light bulbs with compact fluorescents. But with unpredictable energy prices, she said the Goddards couldn't tell if their changes were saving either money or energy.

Enter "The Early Show." We asked the Goddards to try a new program called Microsoft Hohm to find out. Hohm's online survey, Del Conte explained, evaluates every detail of a home's energy use.

The Hohm appliance survey suggested ways the Goddards could save money.

The Goddards found their garage refrigerator was racking up energy.

Paul Goddard said, "It is something we need to really seriously look at, to get rid of."

The Hohm software also monitors the Goddards' use of gas and electricity over the Internet.

The family learned that by combining laundry loads they could reduce resource use and save money. The family could add to the estimated $240 they saved last year.

"If we didn't change our habits," Paul Goddard said, "we'd be spending more money."

Del Conte said that Microsoft and Google both have programs like this in development. She added that if your power company is not participating, you can input your family's energy data manually.

"But I warn you," Del Conte said, "it is a long process so set aside an entire afternoon."
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