A recent research paper suggests that using a thermostat to regulate the flow of heat through a home can actually make the thermostatic unit work less efficiently.
In the paper, which appeared in the journal Science Advances, researchers from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and Rutgers University say that using an electronic device that can send and receive data from the thermoregulator, as opposed to a mechanical one, can result in a reduction in the rate of evaporation in air.
“It has been known for some time that thermostatically controlled air conditioners can be effective at cooling homes, especially in the winter,” said the paper’s lead author, Michael D’Antonio, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering.
“We thought it might be possible to test that theory using an electric circuit and a battery.”
D’Antonsio and his team tested the thermic effect of using an air conditioning device, or AC, that can generate heat from the outside of the home.
They designed a thermo-sensor to detect when the AC’s output was too low and send a signal to the AC that it needs to increase its output.
They found that when the device is connected to a battery, it actually increased the rate at which air was evaporated.
In their paper, they describe how they tested their device by controlling the AC using a laptop computer, using the laptop’s battery to control the thermo sensor and then using a remote control to monitor the air temperature inside the home using the internet.
The thermo effect was observed at an ambient temperature of 77 degrees Fahrenheit (20 Celsius) in the home, which is around three degrees cooler than the room temperature of the test site.
“Our results suggest that a thermosensor that is placed near a wall in the room can also increase evapotranspiration rates,” D’Anonio said.
“A thermos sensor on a wall can be used to regulate a home’s temperature at night when there is less air movement.”
The researchers also tested the device by placing a thermometer on the AC, then monitoring the temperature at the thermos with the internet, then comparing that temperature to the actual ambient temperature.
They compared the temperature readings to the temperatures recorded in the test room.
When the researchers measured the temperature on the laptop, the actual temperature was more than 20 degrees warmer than what was recorded in their test room, and it was around a third of what it was when they tested the actual room temperature.
D’Anonsio said that the results suggest the thermocouple could be a potential solution for home automation systems that need to monitor a wide range of indoor and outdoor temperatures.
They added that other researchers have already begun testing the device, and the therms are expected to become more popular in the next couple of years.
In addition to the researchers from MIT and Rutgers, the research was supported by the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science.