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Smart Thermostats in Residential Applications

Concept Validation for Smart Thermostats in Residential Applications

We consider an emerging category of residential HVAC control technology with enhanced sensing, computing, and communicating functions – a set of devices, software, and services, which we simply refer to as a “smart thermostat.” BPA is investigating potential benefits through preliminary assessment with national research partners. Research objectives include development of methods for measuring and verifying impact on energy use, evaluation of energy savings in field trials, and investigation of the value for homeowner participation in energy and capacity markets as part of Pacific Northwest Smart Grid Demonstration Project.

We hypothesize improvements in efficiency by substituting manual control by a building user with automated control by a digital device and associated software. Fundamentally, this means the “smart” system would meet occupant needs by gathering data through sensors and user interface, analyzing needs and building characteristics, and automating control of HVAC systems accordingly. The user would benefit from efficiency, ease-of-use, automation, information, and empowerment of other behaviors, such as remote monitoring.

Evaluating the Impact of Smart Thermostats on Energy Use


In a research effort led by EPRI, BPA is collaborating with electric utilities to examine the potential benefit and cost of smart thermostats to grid operators. Through technical review, field trial, and other methods, EPRI hopes to measure and verify the impact of smart thermostats on HVAC energy use and evaluate the potential for homeowners to participate in markets for short-term load management services. This project offers the opportunity to pool and compare data across different utility and technology contexts, therefore contributing a larger breadth of results than any single one-off evaluation.


2013 – 2015 (In Progress)

Smart Residential Thermostats Technical Advisory Group

Washington State University Energy Extension Program convened a Technical Advisory Group (TAG) to review and discussed features of smart residential thermostats. TAG members assess the feasibility of Smart Residential Thermostats as an energy-saving technology for the Pacific Northwest. With TAG members' help, BPA identifies research questions to consider for further assessment and evaluation of emerging technologies.


2012 - 2013


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