SPOT – A Personalized Smart Thermal Control System

Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC) accounts for about half of the energy consumption in buildings. HVAC energy consumption can be reduced by changing the indoor air temperature setpoint, but changing the setpoint too aggressively can overly reduce user comfort. We have therefore designed and implemented SPOT: a Smart Personalized Office Thermal control system that balances energy conservation with personal thermal comfort in an office environment. SPOT relies on a new model for personal thermal comfort that we call the Predicted Personal Vote (PPV) model. This model quantitatively predicts human comfort based on a set of underlying measurable environmental and personal parameters. SPOT uses a set of sensors, including a Microsoft Kinect, to measure the parameters underlying the PPV model, then controls heating and cooling elements to dynamically adjust indoor temperature to maintain comfort. Based on a deployment of SPOT in a real office environment, we find that SPOT can accurately maintain personal comfort despite environmental fluctuations and allows a worker to balance personal comfort with energy use.