Wi-Fi Enabled Thermostats

A Guest Post from Home Depot‘s Jay Harris:

Most people can agree with the idea that conserving energy is the right thing to do for our natural resources and the environment. Nobody, however, disputes that saving money on your monthly power bill is better than unnecessarily throwing your cash away. Despite that realization, few people are willing to sacrifice their own personal comfort for a few dollars’ savings. Fortunately, they no longer have to.

When nobody is home, there’s no reason to heat or cool a house to the same temperature that we’d want when we’re there. At the same time, nobody wants to return home after a long day to a house that’s sweltering hot or freezing cold. Even those homeowners with digital, programmable thermostats often fail to properly set them — it’s just another confusing device to learn how to use.

Fortunately, technology has finally caught up with the everyman. Wi-Fi enabled thermostats are quickly becoming the norm, enabling homeowners to adjust the temperature of their house from anywhere in the world where they can access the internet on their phone or mobile device.

Although you could wait until your existing thermostat fails, making the switch to a Wi-Fi model now can pay for itself in a matter of months. Here are three reasons to make the switch sooner than later:

1. It’s cheaper than one month’s power bill

Although adjusting your home’s temperature from across town, in between text messages, may still sound far-fetched to some, it’s already commonplace for early adopters of the new technology. Best of all, Wi-Fi enabled thermostats can now be purchased for as low as $100 from traditional manufacturers like Honeywell and Lennox. Niche manufacturers like Nest even include models that monitor outdoor temperatures and adjust themselves, in turn.

Considering that 43 percent of the average home power bill is consumed by heating and cooling, there’s likely a good chunk of your bill that’s being used unnecessarily. By controlling your home’s temperature every minute, from anywhere, you can whittle down your monthly usage and pay for the new thermostat, possibly within a couple of bill cycles.

2. There’s no reason to pay for what you’re not using

Would you leave your lawnmower running for an hour while you went inside for lunch? Even though we’re away from a home for a large portion of the day, we often continue to heat or cool the house just so that the temperature is comfortable when we walk in the door. With remote access, we can have the best of both worlds. Fifteen minutes before arriving home, adjust your thermostat to the temperature you prefer, and your HVAC system will crank into motion. Unlike traditional programmable thermostats, there’s no need to attempt to predict our daily schedule — we can adjust on the fly.

3. You can budget ahead of time

Nobody likes surprises that cost them money. With most things we purchase, we know exactly what we’re paying, but with utility bills, we tend to cross our fingers and hope for the best. Developments like Wi-Fi thermostats make that guessing game a thing of the past. We now have the capability to monitor and control our energy consumption down to the minute.

Products and smartphone apps like Wattvision and eMonitor are at the helm of a new era of better home energy management. When we can track exactly what areas or appliances in our home are costing us the most money, we respond by replacing antiquated equipment with newer models designed to consume less. That puts pressure on the manufacturing industry to respond, in turn.

Whereas wasting electricity in our homes was once the norm — it could hardly be helped — the technology to control and monitor our home energy use is quickly becoming mainstream. Wi-Fi thermostats are a cost-efficient way to dramatically lower your monthly utility bill, effective immediately!

Jay Harris is a Home Depot “on the floor” sales associate and a regular contributor to Home Depot’s blog. His interests include providing tips on tv stands and mounts, as well as LED light bulbs.

Amazon Kindle DX

Amazon’s Jeff Bezos unveiled the new large format Kindle today, the Kindle DX.   The DX appears to be a very impressive device that brings the elegant reading capabilities of the smaller kindle to a much larger screen that will be more friendly to newspapers and textbooks – the two reading items that appear to be Amazon’s target market for this brand new entry into the electronic reader fray:

As a past skeptic of how the smaller Kindle could find the market needed to be a big success I’m certainly impressed, but also wondering about the economic viability.   At $489 for the new Kindle with at best only modest discounts for newspaper subscriptions I have to remain somewhat skeptical this can take off, although one can see a potentialy large library market since devices like this may make it easier for libraries and schools to manage subscriptions, textbooks, updates, etc.

Gizmodo’s got more on the specs and the launch.

CES 2009 – ASUS’ New Netbooks are Impressive

ASUS PC T101 H

ASUS PC T101 H

I think I was more impressed with the ASUS than Liliputing, but I found the idea of converting the netbook to a tablet with a quick flip, and then being able to attach this unit on a dashboard for a big GIS unit most excellent. The rep told me the GIS application will not be Google’s and I’m not clear how they’ll run that but one possibility would be the trick Blaupunkt was showcasing, also as CES Unveiled, where the user connects a device to their phone via bluetooth and then uses the mobile wireless plan to power these in-car broadband applications. Maybe I fell off the pumpkin truck but I had not heard of doing broadband in this fashion and I think that has some excellent implications for in-car mobile.

later…. at an HP presentation waiting to play with HPs similar offering which is already out, the HP tx2 tablet.   They’ve done a lot of studies in India and concluded that touch can “unlock access” to people who would not have access in tradtional form.   This is a very interesting aspect of emerging countries technology though I’m somewhat skeptical that building for illiterate folks is superior to … teaching them to read first.