Analytics – Making the Smart Home More Efficient

Smart thermostats brought the first wave of intelligence to whole-home heating and cooling. Relatively low-cost control of vents to direct heat and cooling to specific rooms, such as shown in this development on display at International CES 2015, could be considered the next advance in temperature management efficiency. Combining these developments into analytics to determine the efficiency of a home’s HVAC system is what Dipul Patel, CEO and co-founder, of Ecovent discusses in the above interview.

Patel explains that by analyzing the data gathered from their smart vents has allowed them,

“to see things like, blocked ducts, leaky windows, bad insulation; we can tell if a room doesn’t get enough movement of air; we can tell if rooms have mold risk.”

Their analytics report essentially provides a “heating-cooling” score. He suggests that this is helpful to contractors in troubleshooting HVAC systems. He provides an example of how they were able to use their measure temperature and humidity to identify a non-insulated duct in a customer’s home that was wasting 150W of energy.

He points out that each home has its own energy footprint, based on the people who live there, making it extremely difficult to design the perfect heating-cooling system prior to occupancy. The ability to sense, control and learn the heating and cooling needs are critical to maximize heating-cooling efficiency.

A side benefit of their approach, according to their study with Ecovent investor (PDF), Emerson, is the extension of the life of the HVAC system. The Emerson study found the Ecovent solution reduced a major cause of HVAC failure, which is so-called short cycling (e.g. HVAC turning on and off). Similarly, Ecovent addresses another potential issue of added backpressure through a design (PDF) that allows 50% more airflow than traditional stamped metal registers, as well as being able to continually monitor pressure on each vent to ensure that they don’t close too many vents.

Of course, the mechanics of turning on and off vents has to happen in the background, without homeowner intervention for the home to truly be smart. Patel says Ecovent has not plans to monetize the analytics and associated intelligence and that it really is part of their core value of providing, “comfort without compromise.”