THP Entry: Cut Energy Consumption by 30 percent with this WiFi XBee Setup


Let’s be honest. Paying electricity bills sucks. The amount paid is always too much, and the temperatures in the building are rarely set at a comfortable level. But now, with the help of this DIY Climate Control system, power-users can finally rejoice knowing that the heating and cooling process of their home (or commercial space) can be easily controlled through the utilization of an XBee Remote Kit and a process called zoning.

The team behind the project is [Doug], [Benjamin] and [Lucas]. They hope to solve the inconsistent temperature problems, which are caused by a moving sun, by open-sourcing their work into the community.

Their XBee system runs on a mesh network making it a perfect tool for sensing and communicating which areas in the house are too hot or too cold. Once the data is collected, XBee modules route the information wirelessly to each other until it reaches a central Arduino gatekeeper; which then decides if it wants to heat, ventilate, or air condition the room.

Not to mention all the added benefits posted below:

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Liquid Tree

Liquid Tree is decorative, functional, and green. It’s a liquid feedback display created by [Jia Yi Lin] that is designed to tell you exactly how much water you’re wasting in the shower. Behind the pretty tubes is some interesting hardware. [Lin] used an Arduino board, and based her code off the Unipolar Stepper example. She’s posted her own code and wiring for the project. When hot water is turned on, the motors decrease the amount of liquid in the tubes. This causes the pattern to slowly disappear, indicating water consumed.

[via NOTCOT]

Monitoring home energy consumption

Power monitoring and home automation systems are coming to mainstream consumers. The New York Times covers the latest technologies (annoying login required) that improve and monitor energy efficiency in the home. As energy use and costs continue to increase, companies are popping up to offer cheaper solutions that will help consumers monitor energy usage, and decrease it simultaneously. Companies like Zigbee offer wireless protocols to track usage, and “smart metering” systems can communicate with appliances to reduce unnecessary energy usage.

Home automation systems can be set up to control a single system, such as a home theater, or multiple systems throughout a home, like audio, lighting, and temperature. Control4 offers controllers that will allow consumers to regulate their lighting, blinds, and temperature in their homes. Smart meters such as Echelon’s NES system offers users some great features, such as the ability to provide automated reads of electric and gas meters, and enabling load shedding during peak consumption periods, by controlling appliances like air conditioners and water heaters. By allowing the consumers to determine and control how much energy they use, they can successfully reduce their energy consumption levels a significant amount, but whether it’s worth the cost of investment remains to be seen. Although the prices of home automation systems have dropped from over $30,000 to about $5,000, it’s still much more than most consumers can afford.

We’ve covered home automation tools before. We like them because they’re still way more affordable than the offerings available, and the technology is more transparent. If you’ve got a creative and cheap solution to monitoring energy consumption, we’d love to hear it.

[via Waxy]

Serial controlled power outlet

[Alan] sent me his simple rs-232 controlled power outlet. He built it to turn on his laser printer when a print job appeares in the queue. The relay is directly controlled by the DTR line on the serial port. Lots of espresso machine PID conversions use them to run boilers, so he could have avoided the extra mechanical relay. [I can't pick on him too much, my old laserwriter is on all the time.]

He tied it together with some perl to turn on the printer and get the print job going once it’s had enough time to initialize.