If you look at the advertising efforts of the big brands of smart thermostats, you will have noticed that the main USP of their smart gadgets is that they help you save energy. Yet the question is, do we really know how average people are using their smart thermostats and does the industry use this data to improve the future editions of thermostats and to model energy use with an aim of reducing the consumption even further?
The amount of data available today is hard to comprehend. You must have heard the term “big data” coined a few years ago to describe the way industry decisions are increasingly reliant on collating and analysing data but today “big” no longer fully describe the situation. According to stats, 90% of data created by the humankind over the course of its existence has been created in the last 2 years. This is mainly thanks to the expansion of the Internet of Things (IoT) industry, which smart thermostats are a big part of.
The other question is, do we give “big data” the justice. In other words, do we collate and analyse the available data to inform our decisions for the future?
Although to drive a more tangible change in the energy sector, the energy providers need to collaborate with the manufacturers of thermostats in making more sense of the collected data, there are things that households can do to take part.
If you’re using an Ecobee thermostat, you have an option of downloading your usage data in convenient Excel files. Unfortunately, the more popular Nest model, doesn’t offer you such functionality. With Ecobee data you can monitor your energy usage and change the mode of operation according to your findings. To find out more details on how to do it, check this blog post. The chap has managed to cut his energy bill by 35% just by being clever with his “big data” strategy!
A different, more scientific study into how people are using their heating systems with Nest thermostats was carried out by Bonnevile Power Administration back in November, 2016. They surveyed 176 homeowners and the average savings came back at just 4%, which is not great by any stretch of imagination.
Having said that, 46% of the participants didn’t have their “max savings” mode enabled, which goes to show that not every homeowner has a clear enough picture of how a smart thermostat can help save them money on fuel bills.
Even though the Nest won’t allow you to download data, you can access basic heating usage reports online. It would be a good idea to make it a habit. That way you can learn how to save more. As a general approach for the industry, both manufacturers and energy suppliers need to develop a strategy enabling them to implement the usage data in order to be able to offer better products and services for the future of IoT.