Combine a smart ceiling fan and thermostat with your aircon and get kick ass energy savings on summer cooling bills.
Google’s Nest Labs has added another player to its smart home collection: smart fans.
Nest uses its own smart thermostat to work with Big Ass Fan’s SenseME fan, which senses motion and changes speed to maintain the right conditions, thus saving heaps on their customers’ summer cooling bills – it’s called the Haiku ‘smart’ fan.
It’s the concept that engendered the Partnership between Nest and a firm called Big Ass Fans from Kentucky, USA. The Haiku ‘smart’ model has embedded sensors and a central processing unit that turns the fan on and off automatically when a person enters or leaves the room. It also adjusts the fan’s speed depending on the room’s present climate and preferences, which it learns over time from the user.
Now, owners of both the smart fan and the Nest Thermostat will be able to adjust their thermostat temperature right from the Haiku partner app, which is available on iPhone or Android.
Running the Haiku fan, even at full tilt, uses so much less energy than a central air conditioning system, from just two to 30 watts of power depending on the speed – that’s fewer watts than an incandescent light bulb. Nest and Big Ass Fans estimate users could save as much as five per cent per degree.
The Haiku, manufactured in the US with the new SenseME technology, costs around $AU995. Optional add-ons such as LED lighting kits put the price a bit higher. But with the cost of energy and the cost of upmarket ceiling fans, saving money on air conditioning could make the Haiku a good bet.
“If every ceiling fan in the US used the technology, it would be like we would eliminate Connecticut from the grid,” Smith says.
By circulating air, even the lowest-tech ceiling fans can cool a room and allow the occupants to turn down the air conditioner. But most people don’t bother to turn on their fans, or if they do, they run either a fan or the air conditioner.
But a fan and an air conditioner that talk to each other and both automatically adjust to your temperature preferences is what the Haiku is all about. Running the fan and air conditioner together means owners can operate the thermostat at a higher temperature, compensated by the cooling effect of the fan.
Smith says the Haiku smart fan can result in annual savings for an average home of more than 362kg of carbon dioxide, and almost 600 kilowatt hours.
Haiku fans without any smart technology have been on the market for several years and almost 60,000 have been sold so far.
“Everyone talks about the smart home and home automation, but 90 per cent of that stuff is just a fancy remote control—it still requires a button on a smartphone,” says David Banks, Big Ass Fans motor and controls engineering manager. “People just want something that’ll make their life simpler.”
As part of an industry group called Thread, both Nest and Big Ass Fans are contributing to the aim of creating one standard for the way household devices communicate, streamlining the smart home and Internet of Things.
“Our pairing with Nest brings real value by helping people reduce their air conditioning costs,” Smith says. “It’s the easiest energy diet possible, because you don’t even notice it happening. And that’s really the whole goal of the Internet of Things — making life simpler for smart home consumers,” he says.
To learn more about conserving energy, take a look at our energy saving tips.