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Title: A study towards applying thermal inertia for energy conservation in rooms
Authors: Yuan, Y
Pan, D
Wang, D 
Xu, X
Peng, Y
Peng, X
Wan, PJ
Keywords: Energy conservation
Room management
Thermal inertia
Wireless sensor networks
Issue Date: 2013
Publisher: Association for Computing Machinary
Source: ACM transactions on sensor networks, 2013, v. 10, no. 1, 7 How to cite?
Journal: ACM transactions on sensor networks 
Abstract: We are in an age where people are paying increasing attention to energy conservation around the world. The heating and air-conditioning systems of buildings introduce one of the largest chunks of energy expenses. In this article, we make a key observation that after a meeting or a class ends in a room, the indoor temperature will not immediately increase to the outdoor temperature. We call this phenomenon thermal inertia. Thus, if we arrange subsequent meetings in the same room rather than in a room that has not been used for some time, we can take advantage of such undissipated cool or heated air and conserve energy. Though many existing energy conservation solutions for buildings can intelligently turn off facilities when people are absent, we believe that understanding thermal inertia can lead system designs to go beyond on-and-off-based solutions to a wider realm. We propose a framework for exploring thermal inertia in room management. Our framework contains two components. (1) The energy-temperature correlation model captures the relation between indoor temperature change and energy consumption. (2) The energy-aware scheduling algorithms: given information for the relation between energy and temperature change, energy-aware scheduling algorithms arrange meetings not only based on common restrictions, such as meeting time and room capacity requirement, but also energy consumptions. We identify the interface between these components so further works towards same on direction can make efforts on individual components. We develop a system to verify our framework. First, it has a wireless sensor network to collect indoor, outdoor temperature and electricity expenses of the heating or air-conditioning devices. Second, we build an energy-temperature correlation model for the energy expenses and the corresponding room temperature. Third, we develop room scheduling algorithms. In detail, we first extend the current sensor hardware so that it can record the electricity expenses in re-heating or re-cooling a room. As the sensor network needs to work unattendedly, we develop a hardware board for long-range communications so that the Imote2 can send data to a remote server without a computer relay close by. An efficient two-tiered sensor network is developed with our extended Imote2 and TelosB sensors. We apply laws of thermodynamics and build a correlation model of the energy needed to re-cool a room to a target temperature. Such model requires parameter calibration and uses the data collected from the sensor network for model refinement. Armed with the energy-temperature correlation model, we develop an optimal algorithm for a specified case, and we further develop two fast heuristics for different practical scenarios. Our demo system is validated with real deployment of a sensor network for data collection and thermodynamics model calibration. We conduct a comprehensive evaluation with synthetic room and meeting configurations, as well as real class schedules and classroom topologies of The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, academic calendar year of Spring 2011. We observe 20% energy savings as compared with the current schedules.
ISSN: 1550-4859
EISSN: 1550-4867
DOI: 10.1145/2529050
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