We've featured a host of smart thermostats here on TreeHugger including the Nest, Honeywell's latest offering and the EcoBee. All of these have features that help us curb our energy use and save money by automatically changing the temperature to our preferred settings at certain times of the day. The Nest, for example, learns your habits after a few days and automatically goes into a power-saving mode during the times you're out of the house.
While these thermostats offer us lots of control at home or away, they don't let us set a limit to the amount of energy we want to use or money we want to spend in a month and then stick to it. A new add-on technology from University of Arizona's College of Engineering does just that.
The university says, "Unlike smart thermostats that expect consumers to reduce energy consumption by choosing set points using their intuition of savings, this technology translates thermostat changes into dollars before the electricity bill lands in the mailbox."
“Many people do not understand how much energy and money they could be saving,” associate professor Jonathan Sprinkle said. “They just set their thermostat in the desired temperature range then get a bill at the end of the month with no understanding of how they correlate. With this technology, people can decide what they want their comfort levels to be depending on how much they want to spend for electricity.”
Users set their price limit and the wireless technology regulates the temperature to stay within that limit, maintaining as comfortable of temperatures as possible. The monitor calculates all this by using information on the outside climate, the resident's comfort and budget preferences and data from the thermostat.
If a user wants to manually crank up the air conditioning, the technology immediately shows the consequence of the extra energy use in dollars. The software has a web and mobile platform for the users to change and monitor settings and performance.
For many people the idea of saving energy and helping the planet is motivation enough, but for many more people, money is a much stronger motivator and this technology can help both sets of people save money and cut down on the burning of fossil fuels at the same time.