OU researchers working to make smarter thermostats to save money, stay cool

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NORMAN, Okla. – As temperatures continue to stay in the 90s, homeowners across the state are trying to find ways to save money and stay cool.

As a result, many homeowners have made the switch to smart thermostats.

Now, two researchers at the University of Oklahoma are developing technology that utilizes thermostat data to make homes both comfortable for the resident and more energy efficient.

Li Song, an associate professor in the Gallogly College of Engineering’s School of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering, is teaming up with her research colleague, Choon Yik Tang, associate professor in the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering, to develop self-learning heating and air conditioning technology using existing smart thermostats.

“Home heating and air conditioning units used to be simple, focusing primarily on a single component,” Song explained. “Now there is so much data from smart thermostats that we can account for multiple factors to know what is precisely happening when a home is heated and cooled.”

Their research took the data and combined it with the efficiency of the heating and cooling equipment, air distribution system and home design to determine the right combination where homeowners are comfortable while reducing energy consumption and cost.

The researchers are now testing their technology in two lab homes at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Washington and in four homes in Oklahoma.

They plan to expand their research to homes in other states to analyze performance in different climates.

Officials say the research team hopes to work with energy companies to implement the technology on a wider scale.

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