Hopefully you've read my post on Household Energy Use and you know that heating and cooling make up about 50% of your energy bill. Once you realize how much it is costing you to heat and cool your home, you realize how valuable your programmable thermostat is. And while it is nice to be able to program your thermostat to ensure your house is at a nice temperature when you get home from work at 6:00 PM, what if you're going out for a drink after work?
What if you're staying out late to enjoy a few brews with your friends? If you aren't getting home until 11 PM, why make your AC units work to keep an empty house cold (or your heat work to keep it warm). Wouldn't it be great if you could just log onto a website or use your iPhone to set your thermostat to match your new schedule?
Luckily there are a few internet programmable thermostats on the market. These web-enabled programmable thermostats give you the ability to optimize your home's temperature based on you and your family's hectic schedule. How much energy do you think you wasted the last time you went on vacation and forgot to raise your AC?
Two of the more popular products on the market are Proliphix and Ecobee. Unfortunately I haven't been able to sample either product, but on first glance it looks like the Ecobee product has a heavier focus on the Residential consumer and a nicer user interface, while the Proliphix product caters more towards Commercial consumers, though still offers a solution for individuals.
From the demos on their website, the Ecobee unit's interaction screen looks very easy to use. There are rumors of an iPhone app from Ecobee, but I searched the App store and didn't see it so I don't think it is released yet. How cool would it be to control your AC while you sit in traffic! The Ecobee product sells on the website for $469, but they do recommend an HVAC technician installs it.
Since heating and cooling make up so much of our energy consumption, the easier it becomes to controls these loads, the more money we all will save!
***Update - 9/14/09 - I have an Ecobee installed and running in my home, check out the Ecobee smart thermostat demo presented by Mapawatt Blog
***Update - 9/15/09 - The Ecobee Installation review is up!