Not satisfied with rearranging Netflix queues, managing checking accounts, placing items in virtual shopping carts, updating your Facebook status and Tweeting your brains out? A new free online application from Microsoft lets you spend time micromanaging your home energy consumption as well.

According to CNET, next week Microsoft will launch Hohm, an app designed to help folks save money (and the environment) by providing them with an online platform where they can monitor natural gas and electricity usage. Hohm is Microsoft’s contribution to the IT home-energy-monitoring craze, joining the ranks of similar free web-based apps like Google PowerMeter. Personally, I’m not sure if I need another thing on the internets to obsess over (Keyboard Cat’s got me covered) or fiddle with (thank you, FB), but I love the idea behind this.

Here’s the thing: when it comes to household energy conservation, knowledge is everything. But it seems that people generally don’t know what the heck is going on … a couple of bills arrive every month and we groan when they increase but we pay them and move on. All and all, it’s a vague and unpleasant affair. Applications like Hohm that allow users to see tangible proof of how energy is being misused and be told specifically what they can do to curb it have the potential to be big.

Although Hohm is in the beta stages and it sounds like utility providers don’t yet have the ability to feed information into the program (meaning users have to enter energy profiles manually), ideally the program will not only let you view and monitor your home energy use but also compare trends, interact with an online community, and get tailored recommendations on how to conserve energy using analytics from the Department of Energy and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

Would you regularly (ie: obsessively) use an online app like Hohm to rein in energy use, move forward with home improvements, and save a few bucks? Or would a more direct approach, like an unexpected visit from an energy surveillance firm, be more effective? Or do you even want to know the dirty details of your utility bills? Is ignorance bliss in this case?

Via [Jetson Green] [CNET]

Photo: Microsoft

(MNN homepage photo: DivaNir4a/iStockphoto)

Matt Hickman ( @mattyhick ) writes about design, architecture and the intersection between the natural world and the built environment.

Hohm sweet Hohm
Take a sneak peak at Microsoft Hohm, a free online app that helps users rein in household energy use.