U.Va. Researchers

Commonwealth Associate Professor
Computer Science

Buildings such as homes and office complexes are the largest source of energy consumption in the country, accounting for 40 percent of the entire U.S. energy budget. Unfortunately, much of this energy is wasted by unnecessary lighting, heating, or cooling of buildings.

Therma Coach
ThermoCoach is one of the approaches to saving energy developed at U.Va. It detects household occupancy patterns and looks for any mismatch with the home’s heating or cooling energy. If a mismatch is detected, it emails the household suggested thermostat settings (shown here) that can be activated with the click of a button.
The goal of ThermoCoach is to create smarter people, not a smarter thermostat. A 40-home pilot study indicates that this
approach is effective: Households using ThermoCoach saved nearly 12% more than those using the Nest learning algorithm.

Commonwealth Associate Professor Kamin Whitehouse and his research group are developing new sensing technology to recognize the occupants of a building, locate them, and determine which electrical and water fixtures they are using. They have developed smarter thermostats, lighting controls, and water heaters based on these sensors.

They have also developed new eco-feedback techniques to help people make better decisions about energy usage. Together, these techniques can reduce the energy consumption of a building by over 25 percent. This research is helping to propel the nation towards the national challenge of slashing building energy consumption by 20 percent by 2020, as laid out by the White House’s “Better Buildings Challenge.”

REPRESENTATIVE PUBLICATIONS: Juhi Ranjan and Kamin Whitehouse. “Object Hallmarks: Identifying Object Users using Wearable Wrist Sensors”. The ACM International Joint Conference on Pervasive and Ubiquitous Computing (UbiComp). September 7-11, Osaka, Japan.

Jiakang Lu, Tamim Sookoor, Vijay Srinivasan, Gao Ge, Brian Holben, John Stankovic, Eric Field, Kamin Whitehouse. The Smart Thermostat: Using Occupancy Sensors to Save Energy in Homes. The 8th ACM Conference on Embedded Networked Sensing Systems (SenSys). November 3-5, 2010, Zurich, Switzerland.

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