Climate Control Analytics Promote Sustainability

There’s a saying in Virginia, “If you don’t like the weather, wait a few minutes—it will change.”

Temperature fluctuations can cause climate control systems to work overtime, and we don’t always understand the effect on budgets until it’s time to pay the bill. But what if there was a system that monitored your heating and cooling system and provided information to help conserve energy and save money?

In spring 2016 Volgenau student Adam O’Connor, and his team decided to create such a system for their senior design project. They call it Climate Control Analytics (CCA).

“At its heart, CCA is a data acquisition system,” said O’Connor. “We are developing a sensor network to capture key data points in the HVAC system, its building, and the surrounding environment.”

It works like this. The sensor network feeds data to a central database system—the Sensor Output Database (SOD). The SOD functions as the central data hub (or the file cabinet) of the software system’s separate entities: a web dashboard user interface, a central control that coordinates all system processes, and the active control system.

If the SOD is the file cabinet, the web dashboard is the assistant that helps users generate HVAC system performance and consumption reports. The team designed the CCA to collect and store data for 10 years—the expected lifespan of HVAC equipment.

The active control system allows users to see how much it will cost to set the thermostat for any particular temperature set point. It does this by modeling the indoor temperature with a system of differential equations and using a sliding window multi-linear regression outdoor temperature model to predict daily outdoor temperature curves.

By using historical outdoor temperature data and HVAC system performance data, the CCA system will enable consumers to know how much it will cost to keep their home or business at a particular temperature, even in Virginia where it can be winter in the morning, and summer by lunchtime.