18 Aug 2011 03:08:35
Reduce energy costs by living on the edge of the thermal comfort zone
Everyone has their thermal comfort zone which changes dependent on the humidity, what they are wearing and the flow of air around them. Everyone knows when they are comfortable but it can be difficult to relate this to economy. What can be done to reduce energy costs without moving out of the comfort zone?
The new eco-wand USB ComfoMeter, designed by Kyle Electronic Design Ltd in Glasgow, allows people at home and in their office to see their comfort zone and where they are relative to it. On being told what they are wearing and what the airflow is like, the computer program shows where economies can be made without sacrificing comfort.
The ComfoMeter is a USB device which plugs into any handy PC and measures the air temperature and humidity. The eco-wand program running on the computer allows the user to enter their level of clothing and the airflow then, based on the idealised comfort zone derived from studying a large sample of people, the computer works out the ideal thermostat setting. Using the difference between ideal and actual, it then offers advice on what to change to reach the most economic comfortable temperature. In winter it might advise to put on more clothes and turn the thermostat down or in summer it might advise to take clothes off and turn on a fan.
“The ComfoMeter is a multi-purpose tool that can show when energy is being wasted in the home or office” said Dr Gardiner who designed the system. “It uses the powerful graphics of a PC to give meaningful displays of the conditions in rooms. Using the computer for display and control allows us to provide the measurement hardware at a minimum cost and to give useful displays of where and when too much – or too little – energy is being used. Our slogan is - Live life on the edge of your Comfort Zone. It also makes sense of the Government enjoinder to turn the thermostat down a degree”
As well as showing if energy can be saved at the moment, the history feature allows home owners and office managers to see what has been happening. From this they can tell if the heating system
timers are set properly and check the effectiveness of insulation measures. Because of the immediacy of the system, it can be used to see the effects of other energy saving measures such as closing curtains and blinds both when it is cold outside and when it is hot.
It is said that the average household can save £60.00 and 300kg CO2 per year. The ComfoMeter might allow you to go well beyond that or it might show that you are losing work efficiency by working outside the Comfort Zone.