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Energy Efficiency Matters: Latest IoT Innovations in Home & Building Thermostats

With IoT adoption exploding in India, smart consumer electronics is seen as the way of the near future.

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Dr Sreeram Srinivasan, CEO - Syrma Technology

One of the rapidly evolving technologies in the HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning) space is smart thermostats. HVAC systems in India comprise ~40% of the energy consumed by buildings in India. According to the Indian Society of Heating, most commercial buildings have an Energy Performance Index (EPI) of 200 to 400 kWh/sqm. HVAC equipment takes major share of the electricity bills for residential, commercial and industrial applications. This could be overcome by deploying energy efficient systems that can save energy and also help in cost cutting. One such rapidly evolving technology in the HVAC space is smart thermostats. 

Understanding Smart Thermostats 

Today’s smart thermostats are a networked component of the Internet of Things (IoT). Thanks to Wi-Fi connectivity, temperatures can be conveniently adjusted via a downloaded smartphone app from another room or a different zip code. For instance, if a user forgets to lower the thermostat before leaving for work can do so from their office. Another scenario is a vacation and with pets left at home - one can control the climate for them at any time.

Smart thermostats can also operate on a fixed schedule. You can program it to be a certain temperature at night, in the mornings, when leaving for work, or around the time you arrive home. A schedule takes out the extra work of having to remember to adjust the thermostat at certain times. More smart thermostats are also being outfitted with touchscreens, eliminating manual controls for easy operation. Most importantly, smart thermostats can save up to 10-15 per cent on heating and cooling costs. It can achieve real energy savings with maximum user comfort. 

Evolution of Smart Thermostats

Thermostats’ evolution from mechanical to electrical began in the early 19th century and morphed into analog and digital gadgets. At present, they are fast evolving into smart programmable & wireless enabled electronic devices. According to a recent report - the global smart thermostat market size is projected to reach USD 11.36 Bn, registering a CAGR of 28% by 2027. The Indian HVAC market is expected to grow $3.97 Bn. by 2025 and smart thermostats can help reduce the amount of energy consumed by HVAC systems to a large extent.

The applications of smart thermostats in today’s scenario are immense. Some use-cases of smart thermostats are - temperature adjustment by voice command, automatic temperature adjustment via indoor and outdoor sensors, advanced internal diagnostics, monitoring of energy usage and more. 

Self-Learning Thermostat 

Another impressive revolution is a self-learning thermostat. This is a device that incorporates sensors with a specialized algorithm that records and analyzes usage habits. The climate can then be automatically adjusted accordingly. Instead of the home or building being the same continuous temperatures, it’ll fluctuate throughout the day based on usage patterns. Some thermostats can detect your proximity to the home or business, so the temperature can be adjusted accordingly, this technology is called geofencing. A smartphone app is required for this feature to work, but it’s nice for people who have been working all day and want to come to an environment that’s already the right temperature after dormancy during the workday. 

For homeowners looking for the latest automation solutions, some smart thermostats can directly integrate with smart home systems, controlling lighting, appliances, and even individual outlets. Some home automation systems now offer integration with Siri voice control through Apple’s Home Kit. Amazon’s Alexa is getting in the game by integrating with smart thermostats and other smart home operations with similar voice control features.

Shifting Supply Chain

Thermostatically controlled cargo containers with a combination of insulation materials and electronics help the drugs to be transported in a maintained environment. They are powered via internal batteries or external electric sources to maintain power through large cooling fans and heating mechanisms. 

As the Industry expands, loss of goods during transit is no longer welcomed and thus brings in demand for newer technologies to manage the containers.  The greater range of shipping temperatures required by manufacturers increases the demand on both packaging and on the integrity of the entire temperature-controlled–controlled supply chain. This is imperative for many pharmaceutical products, as spoiled drugs can have serious consequences on health and wellbeing.

IoT enabled ‘smart containers’ are increasingly providing extended protection for temperature – sensitive cold chain shipments. It helps shippers receive status updates and alerts if the reefer containers condition deviates from the required settings like temperature, CO2 levels and power status of the container through the sensors.

Increasing Adoption

The IoT adoption has exploded in the last three years with enterprises spending in testing and deploying several IoT use cases. It is expected that the total number of IoT connections will reach 83 billion by 2024, rising from 35 billion connections in 2020.The rising adoption of smart infrastructure, especially among urban households, is driving the growth. 

The Government of India has now come up with a PLI scheme for white goods (Air Conditioner and LED Lights) aimed at boosting domestic manufacturing. The scheme is expected to attract global investments, generate large-scale employment opportunities and enhance exports substantially. Hence, the industry will not be able to pass up on this technological revolution. Smart consumer electronics will become ubiquitous and all-encompassing and is seen as the way of the near future.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.

Dr. Sreeram Srinivasan

The author is CEO, Syrma Technology

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