Thermostats that Learn and Communicate!
Tom Lombardo posted on February 08, 2013 |

You’re an engineer, so you obviously have a digital programmable thermostat. (You don’t! What are you waiting for?) These devices save energy by using set-back temperatures overnight and at times when nobody is home, and can reduce heating and cooling costs by up to 30%. The newest generation of thermostats aren’t just programmable, they’re also smart and connected!

The Nest thermostat was created by former Apple engineers who designed iPodsTM and iPhonesTM. In true Apple style, the Nest interface exemplifies simplicity. To the user it appears like a simple dial thermostat: set it to a certain temperature and it stays there. But behind the scenes the Nest is anything but simple. If you manually adjust the temperature - say turning it down before going to work and turning it back up when you get home - the Nest will learn your habits and start to make the adjustments automatically. The Nest can connect to the Internet via your home WiFi. With a smartphone app, you can control the temperature remotely.





Did you forget to turn it down before you left? The Nest has an “auto-away” function that senses when nobody is home and turns the temperature down anyway.



Some people might not be thrilled about a thermostat making decisions for them. I’m not afraid of the “old-fashioned” digital thermostats that I can program myself. On the other hand, there are many people - I call them 12:00 flashers because all of their digital appliances are flashing 12:00 - are less inclined to do any manual programming. For them, the Nest is a good way to save energy and money.

Taking it a step further, Honeywell and Opower are collaborating on the next generation of thermostats. These are programmable and controlled by smartphone apps, and also allow utilities to turn off heat pumps and air conditioners during peak demand hours. Many power companies offer rebates to consumers who allow utilities to control peak demand operation of their heating/cooling systems. 



Sustainable energy isn’t just about generating energy; a watt saved is equal to a watt generated, and it's usually less expensive. Smart devices like the Nest are just one of many ways to reduce power consumption, which in turn decreases the burden on energy production. Consider adding intelligent power algorithms to your next device to reduce its energy use.

Image credits: Nest

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