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EcoFactor: Our users see big energy savings

The company says that data collected on homes using automated thermostat software system show an average 17 percent reduction in energy use.

Homes using EcoFactor for controlling their heating and cooling have seen on average a 17 percent reduction in energy use, the company announced Thursday.

In conjunction with local utilities and home service providers, Silicon Valley-based EcoFactor collected data from homes in both pilot and commercial programs using two-way thermostats connected to the company's software platform.

EcoFactor's software collects over 24,000 pieces of data daily to profile a home's thermal characteristics. It monitors things like weather forecasts, and the home's temperature and its HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) system, then mathematically analyzes the most opportune way in which the thermostat should be set or changed throughout the day in order to keep the home at a desired temperature while using as little energy as possible.

The software platform works with any two-way thermostat; that is, a thermostat with an internet connection so that it can send and receive data with EcoFactor as well as collect data from the home.

Unlike programmable thermostats, the EcoFactor software constantly updates the house profile and can be set so the thermostat self-regulates accordingly. Customers have the option of allowing self-regulation or overriding it to control the thermostat themselves.

"It works because we're going beyond basic remote controls that just make the specific changes that consumers tell them to--and thus can only save energy to the extent the homeowner understands how to reduce usage and change their behavior accordingly," EcoFactor CEO John Steinberg.

In addition to working on the user side, EcoFactor also uses the collected house data to provide local utilities with data for managing the amount of electricity they can expect to supply to customers.

That data share with utilities goes both ways, in that EcoFactor also warns customers of peak-usage hours from their utility. Customers then have the option, for example, of allowing EcoFactor to "pre-cool" their home in anticipation of turning down the AC during peak usage hours.

EcoFactor won the CleanTech Open in 2009, one of the leading green start-up competitions in the U.S., and many have been keeping a close eye on the company's progress. Home heating and cooling makes up at least half of most U.S. home energy bills, so a successful self-regulating thermostat systems could make a big impact on home energy savings in the U.S.