More than 60 million U.S. homeowners, by simply typing in their address, can now see how their energy efficiency compares with others in their neighborhood or state.
Microsoft Hohm, a free online service that gives tips on how to boost home efficiency, announced Wednesday a new feature that scores homes nationwide. Its estimates are based on public information about a home's size, age and location and other data on an area's typical weather and utility bills.
"The big deal here is that we built the Hohm Score to answer a simple question: Am I an energy hog or an energy miser?" Troy Batterberry, Hohm Score's general manager, says in the announcement.
This new tool comes as companies increasingly compete in the home energy market, either by offering smart meters that connect a home's appliances or -- like Hohm and Google's PowerMeter -- online services.
Which states have the most and least efficient homes?
The average Hohm Score is 61, based on a 1-100 scale. Homes in Hawaii top the list, with an 81, followed by those in Delaware and Maryland (each 70), District of Columbia (68) and New Jersey (67.)
The lowest score went to homes in Texas, Tennessee and Nevada, each with a score of 51, followed by those in Oklahoma (52) and Arkansas (53.)
The scores are estimates unless a homeowner inputs more detailed information, which allows Hohm to provide customized tips for conserving energy such as caulking windows or adding insulation.
Consumers can automatically link their energy bills to a private Hohm page if they're served by these utilities: Seattle City Light, Sacramento (Calif.) Municipal Utility District, and Xcel Energy (eight states in the Midwest and West.)
"Someone could easily save $200, $300, $400 a year just by taking advantage of some of the more basic recommendations we offer you with Hohm," Batterberry says in the announcement.
Hohm charges nothing for its reports, but it may at some point start charging contractors for consumer referrals and utilities for its software, Marja Koopmans told Green House in a March interview. Koopmans is general manager of marketing for Microsoft's start-up business group, which includes Hohm.