Tucson invention could save money and energy

Tucson invention could save money and energy

TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now)

It's the summer and it's only getting warmer which means one thing-- sticker shock when you see your power bill as you try to keep your home cool.

What if we could know ahead of time just how much our electric bill will be, or even have a way to adjust the air conditioner thermostat to meet a set amount we're willing to pay.
University of Arizona Assistant Professor Dr. Jonathan Sprinkle and his team are working on that for cooling and heating.
They've invented a device that talks to your wifi-enabled thermostat via your home's wifi.

The plan is to expand to other thermostats.

The inventors hope, eventually, to have the device built-in to thermostats.

The thermostat monitor can figure out what your bill is ahead of time, so you can make adjustments right away instead of waiting for the bill.

It also can make the adjustments for you.

"You can either say, I want to be 74 degrees, and late at night I want to be 76, and in the morning I want to be 72. It'll figure out all of those costs for you. But if you just have a number in mind of dollars--say I just want to spend $180 this month on my cooling--it'll figure out the set points so it comes out to $180 by the end of the month," Sprinkle says.

You find the most comfortable temperature for you at the most comfortable cost.

Sprinkle says there are two ways to really save money on energy costs.

He says people can decide to buy new appliances, add insulation, do several very expensive things to their homes or they can make different energy use decisions.

Sprinkle says the monitor is a tool to give consumers information on that trade-off that they don't have now.

Sprinkle wants the device to cost less than a regular thermostat, under 100 dollars.

Right now he's in the process of raising money to begin manufacturing the thermostat monitor, with the goal of having it on store shelves or online within a year.

The next goal: a monitor for your entire home.

Sprinkle is in the UA College of Engineering Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering.
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