While the smart home concept hasn't been fully embraced yet by consumers, a handful of standout devices have helped this technology make serious inroads with the mainstream. One of the most recognizable of these products is the sleek Nest learning thermostat, which recently released its third edition and can save homeowners up to 10 to 12 percent on their heating bills (or roughly $131-$145 a year for the average American home). That's an impressive reduction in both costs and energy consumption. But a new, self-learning system being refined by a German startup and architect and sustainability expert Werner Sobek promises energy savings for homeowners that more than double those of the Nest. A collection of wireless sensors that monitors and controls home heating and cooling, the alphaEOS system can potentially cut energy usage by 40%, according to Sobek, by not just reacting to user's habits and preferences, but by also factoring in climate and weather data.
"I don't like the term smart home technology," he says. "The main focus for us is energy management."
Sobek is best known for his experimental, energy-efficient home designs, including the B10 Active House in Stuttgart, a solar-powered prefab with such efficient energy management systems and insulation that it can theoretically generate twice the energy it needs. One of the key technological advances that makes the B10 so efficient, which also forms the basis for alphaEOS (energy optimizing system), is the way it factors in local weather and meteorological data, such as sunlight, temperature and humidity, to improve performance. The app-controlled alphaEOS system does the same. In addition to adjusting to the habits and routines of a home's occupants, the system can calibrate heating and cooling based on factors such as an overcast sky, offering a system that not only learns, but predicts. It's also incredibly precise. A series of solar powered sensors sends info from each room to the main control unit, adding additional data points to help fine-tune performance.
"Without the active contribution of the owners and inhabitants, it tackles the energy question," says Sobek.
Currently, the system is designed to work with specific heating and cooling system and is only being developed and sold in Central Europe. Sobek has no timeline as to when it might be available in the United States. While we haven't been able to test the alphaEOS system to verify Sobek's claims, his success in developing sustainable technologies suggests this is, at the least, an interesting development in the smart home space.