Greener Thermostats

Ecobee ThermostatI know – you’re wondering what a cabinet blog is doing talking about thermostats.   Well, as part of our commitment to making our cabinets a little bit greener every year, this year we decided to take a look at our heating bills.

Our heating needs are currently responsible for about 20% of our carbon footprint, so cutting that down could have a significant effect on our overall footprint.  In fact, our preliminary tests show a reduction of as much as 50% may be possible.

Our previous thermostats were simple dial-types that worked just fine, but were sometimes forgotten and left on in the evening or over the weekend.   Some conventional programmable thermostats might have improved things, but we wanted to do a bit better and so found these impressive internet-connected thermostats from a canadian company called Ecobee.

As it turns out, BC Hydro was looking for some small-industrial companies like Gillingham Cabinets to try out these thermostats as a real-world test of how much energy savings they could achieve.  We signed up with them and are currently conducting a 5 month trial through the winter, with a report due to BC Hydro at the end of May.

Why are these thermostats better? Well – with a conventional programmable thermostat, you take a guess at a decent program, and gauge from your monthly bill whether you’ve made any improvement or not.

With these thermostats you can get a much more detailed picture of what’s going on with your heating system.  It records the temperature reading, the set-temperature and when your heating is active, and displays it for you in a web-browser on your computer.  You can fine-tune your program and see how well it worked the next day.  Making program changes is also easier, because it can be done on the large colour screen of the computer and without having to traipse around to each thermostat.   Here is a graph of the heating in our showroom in Duncan from early December.

Ecobee Heat Graph - Gillingham Cabinets Showroom in Duncan, BC

The dotted red line is the set-temperature, the darker blue line is the indoor temperature, and the red blocks along the bottom indicate when the heating is active.  As a bonus the light blue line through the middle is the relative humidity -which is helpful in our spray-booth -  and the solid black line is the outdoor temperature that it retrieves from the internet and uses in it’s calculations of when to turn on and off.

It’s early in the trial yet, so we’re not sure just how much energy we will save with these new thermostats, but we will let you know in June when we’ve submitted our report to BC Hydro.

For the home version of this thermostat you can even adjust your thermostat from your iPhone before you get home.  I have one and wrote a review about it if you’d like more information on the home version.

Let us know what you think in the comments, or check back in June when we’ll share some of the results from the trial on this blog.  If you stop by our showrooms, Duncan would be happy to give you a demo.

Update, 29-May-2012: The results are in – with Ecobee, we cut our heating costs in half!

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