While the big attention is on solar and other "green" technologies, how you set your thermostat is still one of the biggest factors in your total energy consumption.
Programmable thermostats have become a mainstay for conserving money and energy. The are well suited to people who are out of the home on a regular schedule. But with more and more people telecommuting and keeping atypical hours schedules don't work as well as they would for the 9 to 5 set.
Integrated home systems and home automation allow various systems to communicate with one another. And, an Alarm System used properly is in a unique position of knowing when you are home or away. Companies like GE, Alarm.com and others have taken advantage of this by offering optional thermostat control modules.
Alarm.com's web interface for viewing temperature history and setting an energy efficient temperature when the system is set to "away" is impressive and effective. It, however, has limitations. It is only available on the GE Simon Alarm Panel which is best suited for apartment and smaller homes and it can only control one zone. The GE Concord panel, which accounts for 80% or more of the panels we install is not supported by Alarm.com's thermostat control. GE does offer a less interactive but similarly effective modules which can adjust temperature when the Alarm System is set to "away". And other products and system designs can accomplish significant energy savings and environmental impact (e.g., water use, lights, appliance control).
GE and many other alarm systems integrate with X10, a home automation standard which we will write more about in the future.
The GE Simon Panel is a compact and self contained panel which can transmit signals over a phone line or wirelessly via Alarm.com. We have seen some good applications for it in server rooms where it keeps track of who is going in and out. The Alarm.com thermostat module can send alerts when the temperature goes above or bellow set thresholds. This can also be useful as a separate system (or sub-system connected to whole house system) for wine cellars and art collections.
Environmental sustainability and how Alarm and Integrated systems can benefit energy consumption efforts will be an ongoing topic for us in our BLOG.