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Title: Facilitating Energy Savings through Enhanced Usability of Thermostats

Abstract

Residential thermostats play a key role in controlling heating and cooling systems. Occupants often find the controls of programmable thermostats confusing, sometimes leading to higher heating consumption than when the buildings are controlled manually. A high degree of usability is vital to a programmable thermostat's effectiveness because, unlike a more efficient heating system, occupants must engage in specific actions after installation to obtain energy savings. We developed a procedure for measuring the usability of thermostats and tested this methodology with 31 subjects on five thermostats. The procedure requires first identifying representative tasks associated with the device and then testing the subjects ability to accomplish those tasks. The procedure was able to demonstrate the subjects wide ability to accomplish tasks and the influence of a device's usability on success rates. A metric based on the time to accomplish the tasks and the fraction of subjects actually completing the tasks captured the key aspects of each thermostat's usability. The procedure was recently adopted by the Energy Star Program for its thermostat specification. The approach appears suitable for quantifying usability of controls in other products, such as heat pump water heaters and commercial lighting.

Authors:
; ; ; ;
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
Lawrence Berkeley National Lab. (LBNL), Berkeley, CA (United States)
Sponsoring Org.:
Environmental Energy Technologies Division
OSTI Identifier:
1050979
Report Number(s):
LBNL-5043E
TRN: US201218%%1168
DOE Contract Number:  
DE-AC02-05CH11231
Resource Type:
Conference
Resource Relation:
Conference: ECEEE Summer Study on Energy Efficiency. ECEEE 2011 Summer Study. Belambra Presqu?ile de Giens, France: European Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
32 ENERGY CONSERVATION, CONSUMPTION, AND UTILIZATION; 29 ENERGY PLANNING, POLICY AND ECONOMY; COOLING SYSTEMS; ENERGY EFFICIENCY; HEAT PUMPS; HEATING; HEATING SYSTEMS; METRICS; OCCUPANTS; TESTING; THERMOSTATS; WATER HEATERS; control and monitoring devices, cooling, buildings, heat controls, user perspective, usability, interface

Citation Formats

Meier, Alan, Aragon, Cecilia, Peffer, Therese, Perry, Daniel, and Pritoni, Marco. Facilitating Energy Savings through Enhanced Usability of Thermostats. United States: N. p., 2011. Web.
Meier, Alan, Aragon, Cecilia, Peffer, Therese, Perry, Daniel, & Pritoni, Marco. Facilitating Energy Savings through Enhanced Usability of Thermostats. United States.
Meier, Alan, Aragon, Cecilia, Peffer, Therese, Perry, Daniel, and Pritoni, Marco. Mon . "Facilitating Energy Savings through Enhanced Usability of Thermostats". United States. https://www.osti.gov/servlets/purl/1050979.
@article{osti_1050979,
title = {Facilitating Energy Savings through Enhanced Usability of Thermostats},
author = {Meier, Alan and Aragon, Cecilia and Peffer, Therese and Perry, Daniel and Pritoni, Marco},
abstractNote = {Residential thermostats play a key role in controlling heating and cooling systems. Occupants often find the controls of programmable thermostats confusing, sometimes leading to higher heating consumption than when the buildings are controlled manually. A high degree of usability is vital to a programmable thermostat's effectiveness because, unlike a more efficient heating system, occupants must engage in specific actions after installation to obtain energy savings. We developed a procedure for measuring the usability of thermostats and tested this methodology with 31 subjects on five thermostats. The procedure requires first identifying representative tasks associated with the device and then testing the subjects ability to accomplish those tasks. The procedure was able to demonstrate the subjects wide ability to accomplish tasks and the influence of a device's usability on success rates. A metric based on the time to accomplish the tasks and the fraction of subjects actually completing the tasks captured the key aspects of each thermostat's usability. The procedure was recently adopted by the Energy Star Program for its thermostat specification. The approach appears suitable for quantifying usability of controls in other products, such as heat pump water heaters and commercial lighting.},
doi = {},
url = {https://www.osti.gov/biblio/1050979}, journal = {},
number = ,
volume = ,
place = {United States},
year = {2011},
month = {5}
}

Conference:
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