Control your heating from your phone!

Apparently, Finland, home of the Nokia, has long been the place where home automation and mobile phones are linked. It’s possible, if not common, I remember reading somewhere, to send a message from your phone that tells your house to turn on your sauna, just as you get into the car to begin your commute home. By the time you pull into your drive, your sweatlodge has heated up to the right temperature.

I’d really like to have more of my house automated and connected to the technology that’s already there. Sure, yes, we have a bunch of lights and the fish tank on timers, but that’s not the same. How hard would it be to have car-style keyfob remote locking for the entire house? Preferably with a gizmo that automatically shuts all the windows when you press a button.

This week, my brother sent me a link to a type of thermostat that fixes to your central heating and can be controlled by your mobile phone. That’s the sort of thing I’m talking about. Next time I’ve got over £100 spare, plus the yen to poke at my existing thermostat with a screwdriver I’m totes giving that a whirl. If nothing else, it would be so much easier to set program times from a website than from the poor UX of a tiny LCD screen and only 3 buttons.

Then there’s Belkin WeMo – things that sit in sockets and can be turned on by your iPhone. At the minute, it’s Apple only and pretty expensive. But it can also be controlled by IFTTT which at least gives you more options. (Not sure if you still need Apple in the loop there somewhere too.)

I’ve also wondered for a while about a series of temperature dataloggers scattered about the house just to get some data about how the heating actually works. You know, just because it’s interesting. All the loggers I have been able to find on the internet after not really looking that hard were either very expensive or required the sort of programming or soldering skills I do not have.

But right at the bottom of the page for the Android thermostat guys was a link to a new service called My Joulo. It’s a university project that wants to gather hard data about people’s heating systems. So they post you a datalogger of their own design and ask you to use it for a week then post it back. In return they crunch your data and make basic suggestions about how to save money on your heating bill. Basically, just some fancy graphs that say “turn down your ‘stat and stop fiddling with it” I imagine. Anyway, it’s free, and data-ry and nerdy and to do with heating, so I have signed away the little form and eagerly awaiting the USB logger to arrive in the post.

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One comment on “Control your heating from your phone!

  1. Dr_nick says:

    I signed up for myjoulo too – and set it up last night!

    You actually send them the data digitally at the end of the logging phase – the device is actuallya little usb stick! And there is no requirement to send it back, just a loosely worded suggestion that to keep the service free, it would be best for them to be able to reuse them… Its for some university project or other where they are collating data about how people use energy/heating.

    =)

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