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Smart Thermostat Puts Energy Money Saving at Household Fingertips

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One of three smart thermostats developed at the University of Southampton.

Researchers at the University of Southampton have developed "smart: thermostats that allow users to control temperatures based on the cost of heating their homes.

Credit: University of Southampton (United Kingdom)

University of Southampton researchers have developed a prototype "smart" thermostat, which enables users to control their heating based on the price they want to pay rather than setting it by temperature alone.

The researchers produced three different smart thermostats that automated heating based on users' preferences and real-time price variations. One of the thermostats enables users to explicitly specify how the heating should respond to price changes. The two other thermostats are learning-based models, which use artificial intelligence to automate the temperature settings based on learned household preferences.

The researchers tested all three models in a month-long field study involving 30 UK households. During the study, the energy price was changed every 30 minutes, and the participants could view those changes. The researchers found the participants used all three thermostat systems to effectively manage their home heating and create temperature preferences based on real-time prices.

"People were more aware of their energy consumption and were happy with the autonomous system controlling their heating on their behalf given real-time prices," says University of Southampton researcher Alper Alan.

However, the researchers also found price was not the only factor users considered when heating their homes; other key factors included outside weather, occupancy, and daily activities within the house.

From University of Southampton (United Kingdom)
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