Smartphone apps have emerged that allow people to control their use of air conditioning remotely. One New York energy company is promoting the use of mobile to allow customers to control their units.
According to CNN Money, New York utility company Con Edison has partnered with ThinkEco to create "CoolNYC", an energy monitoring app.
For some time now people have been able to somewhat control their central air conditioning (or heat) use through digital thermostats, however this initiative integrates this capability with mobile. Consumers can use their smartphones to control when they want to monitor when their window air conditioners turn on and off.
"The idea of CoolNYC is to bring this technology to everybody so that people can be smart about the way they use their window air conditioners and save energy by doing so," said Mei Shibata, co-founder of New York-based ThinkEco, reported CNN Money.
How it works
Users plug window air conditioners into a "smart plug". This plug is designed to control the flow of electricity to the a/c and has been developed to use wireless technology to connect to the Internet.
Once set up, users can remotely determine a temperature for their air conditioners. If the temperature reaches the designated level, the A/C unit will turn off, and when temperatures rise about the determined level, it will automatically kick back on to cool the room again.
There are a few perceived benefits that may come from using this app.
For the consumer, there is an ability to better manage air conditioning costs as the consumer doesn't need to choose between letting an A/C unit run all day or leaving it off entirely. Or they can turn the unit off from a remote location if they've accidentally left it on, or they can turn it on prior to arriving home to cool the residence down ahead of time.
Consumers can also easily view how much energy their units are using and adjust accordingly. (Or parents can perhaps bust their teen throwing a party in their absence as one Australian father did this past March using an energy app).
Additionally, this could potentially limit the burden placed on utility companies during heat waves where often systems are frequently overloaded due to higher demands on energy during the hot months. Recently, NYC experienced brown-outs, or lowered voltage reductions, during the heat wave.
Raises energy awareness?
"We're definitely crossing over into segments of the population that normally did not care about energy efficiency, being drawn into it because it's a cool product," Shibata said. "It leaves a permanent impression, to the point where we hear about it from the consumer. It's been a great education tool for people."
Reportedly, about 7,000 NYC residents have signed up so far for CoolNYC. This summer the company plans to distribute 10,000 "smart plugs" this summer. About 75 percent will be given out to residents free of charge and the remaining kits, which come with one modlet, one USB and one smartAC thermostat, will be sold at some New York Best Buy stores for about $70; a $25 gift card is included with the purchase.
According to Mother Nature Network, the air conditioner recently celebrated 110 years since Dr. Willis Haviland Carrier developed the concept on July 18, 1902.