San Mateo, Calif.-based meter data management software startup eMeter on Wednesday announced its Energy Engage platform – a website that will link smart meter data to a web display to give homeowners clues on how much energy they're using and how to make do with less.

It's a crowded marketplace. Dozens of startups — Tendril, Greenbox, EnergyHub, 4Home, Control4, and a host of others — are developing both hardware and software to help homeowners track and manage their energy use (see The Smart Home, Part I).

And the entry of IT giants like Google (and possibly others – stay tuned) is only going to add pressure on latecomers (Lu's Google PowerMeter Update: Open APIs, More Partners Soon).

But Sam Klepper, the senior vice president in charge of eMeter's consumer energy group, insists that Energy Engage will beat the competition on ease of use, marketing to consumers, and perhaps most importantly, on its integration of data that is the company's stock in trade (see eMeter: Data-Keeper for the Smart Grid).

"Having 10 years of meter data management experience, and really owning, categorizing and storing data... we can ensure we're maintaining this properly," he said. "That's not something everyone can do."

EMeter is testing the system with the PowerCents DC pilot program, involving about 1,400 customers of utility Pepco outfitted with smart meters and offered a variety of pricing programs to encourage them to cut energy use during peak demand times. It's also in discussion with other utilities, including customers of eMeter's meter data management software, Klepper said.

Energy Engage includes ways to alert homeowners via text message and email when they're exceeding certain set energy use thresholds, as well as compare one's home energy usage to neighbors, he said.

EMeter will also direct its marketing unit, which works on behalf of utilities seeking to promote various energy efficiency and demand response programs, toward getting consumers to take up Energy Engage, he said.

It's a truism in the home energy management field that homeowners will save 5 percent to 15 percent on their energy bills once they can get a clearer view of when and how they're using power.

In fact, about three-quarters of the proposals eMeter has seen from utilities for meter data management services include a request for some kind of home energy presentation to go along with it, prompting the company move into the space, he said.

The platform will be free to homeowners. To make money on it, eMeter will charge utilities a licensing fee, Klepper said.