We’re on the Threshold of Big Data for Home Energy Automation

April 9, 2013
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Savant SST-W100 thermostat

Just another Wi-Fi-controlled thermostat? Savant’s SST-W100 responds to outdoor temperatures, and the company envisions more data integration with its energy management products.

When control and automation company Savant Systems introduced its SST-W1000 wireless thermostat recently, it marked a first for the company. Now it has its own thermostat, as well as supporting others. But other than that, no big deal, right? Another Wi-Fi-connected thermostat, ho hum.

But as Savant’s executive vice president of Corporate Strategy & Business Development Jim Carroll sees it, there’s a lot more to this than Savant having its own thermostat. The company now has its own thermostat from which it can retrieve data and tie into its control systems and even its SmartEnergy monitoring system—with the end goal of using that data.

Now this is getting a bit more interesting.

“We want to extract information and understand behaviors” and respond to those behaviors, Carroll says. That means knowing why the thermostat is set to a certain temperature at a certain time, aggregating that information with weather data from outside, and using occupancy information so the devices in a system have sense of awareness of what’s going on.

Already the SST-W1000 can respond to outside temperature data to turn up or down the indoor temperature. “We get real time data and trends with historical records,” Carroll says.

The ability of electronics systems to respond to the presence of people is known as ambient intelligence.

Savant SmartEnergy

Savant’s SmartEnergy Monitor interface allows you to drill down to control lighting, HVAC or other systems, and is capable of some automation.

Carroll envisions entering the home and having a Savant system, which happens to be Apple-based, reading his iPhone to know it’s him and automatically playing his favorite music and turning the thermostats and lights up or down to his preferred levels—if the system also knows he’s the only one in the house. Or it can preheat or precool the house while he’s on his way home, starting at a certain point by reading his GPS location.

Systems such as this will become more aware of the environment, so everything you want to control can be integrated and automated, whether through preprogrammed schedules, energy monitoring, you name it. The system can use the data it has collected to make changes on the fly. And there will always be a manual override.

“We believe that’s where the whole market is going,” Carroll says. “We have partial support for personal preferences today, and with almost every software release we incrementally add more along these lines.”

Intelligent Energy Automation

Carroll sees ambient intelligence evolving so Savant’s SmartEnergy monitor can provide more energy management through automation, such as powering down devices to save energy. Presently the system allows users to tap a slice of the energy wheel seen on the main SmartEnergy interface to get to the lighting control page, for example. Truly automating the system based on energy demand or usage takes customization through Savant’s RacePoint Blueprint development software.

Carroll sees the system employing the data collected from connected devices, being able to tell you how much that old refrigerator in the basement is costing you and how much you’ll save by replacing it, or how much you can save by running the pool pump six hours instead of eight.

Savant_SmartClimate

A Savant thermostat using LiteTouch design and with the ability to control audio may be released by summer.

Why, all of this reminds one of Big Data being used in marketing and building efficiency.

“Big data is part of the end game,” Carroll says. “And what if sponsors of energy-saving water heaters or new refrigerators popped up on our app to help consumers make choices?”

This is the era of big data, folks. It’s already here and evolving quickly, as sensors communicate not only with thermostats but control systems, and these systems collect and aggregate data and analyze it—and then hopefully respond to your needs. And yes, expect the systems to push products that they “think” fits your needs.

Savant plans to up the ante with more HVAC products around June, perhaps including a smart-looking thermostat employing a single-gang faceplate from from LiteTouch lighting control, which the company purchased last year, and the ability to control your audio with it.

 

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