Image via Silverpac
Using the thermostat as a home's energy meter is gaining popularity. It's a quick way to add another useful function to an existing system. Ecobee is one such example, but the latest contender is Silverpac's rather massive 7-inch touch-screen thermostat. The thermostat - the SilverSTAT 7 - is a "Smart Energy Thermostat" that gives advanced control over a home's HVAC system with energy monitoring tools linking you up to your smart meter, which means it can provide energy bill expense projections so you know when to cut back. It is Z-Wave enabled so it will be able to talk to and interact with other Z-Wave enabled lights and appliances, programming and shutting them off as needed.
Image via Silverpac
But, do we really need a 7" touch-screen display to do that? Seems like the device itself is rather excessive. Additionally, companies devising smart energy management devices are finding that the product needs to go in places where people will want to, and remember to access the data. The thermostat isn't one of those places people think to look very often. So this device may not end up doing much more than being a really big, fancy-looking programmable thermostat.
If that's the case, then it's far, far, far greener to just keep your current thermostat and not buy one that has so much embodied energy that it would take a long time to realize actual energy savings, despite how it might get you to cut back on energy consumption.
Another place Silverpac is putting energy efficiency is in the remote control. With this specialized remote, you're able to access news and social networking sites - meaning you can shut off your laptop much of the time and use a much lower-energy tool for surfing - and it can automate your home's lighting and HVAC system so you can shut off any extra energy-suckers from any room. The device is anything but cheap, though, with a (ridiculous?) retail price of $1,300. You get a $500 rebate if you participate in their beta test program. It'll start shipping in February 2010.
More on Smart Devices for Home Energy
Ecobee Smart Thermostat Lets You Dip Your Toes into Smart Home Integration
West Coast Green 2009: Can Energy Dashboards Change Behavior, Permanently?
Cleantech Open 09 - EcoFactor is NOT a Smart Thermostat - It's Better.
CES 2010 - Whirlpool's Upcoming Super Efficient Washer, Home Energy Monitor, and Super NOT Efficient Oven