A new cell phone app can help you control your home air conditioner at your fingertips.
New York electric company Con Edison and ThinkEco are helping New York citizens control their home cooling systems by using their smartphones and the Internet.
The project known as CoolNYC is selling and giving away 10,000 “smart plugs.” Many of the devices will be given away to residents of large apartments while others will have the opportunity to purchase it at their neighborhood Best Buy store.
"The idea of CoolNYC is to bring this technology to everybody so that people can be smart about the way they use their window air conditioners and save energy by doing so," said Mei Shibata, co-founder of New York-based ThinkEco.
CoolNYC got its start last year with 300 participants. This year that number has grown to 7,000.
When users plug their window air conditioners into the smart plug it will control the amount of air flowing and connect to the Internet. When the resident sets their desired home temperature the smart plug will shut off when the temperature falls below the one set. It will automatically turn itself back on when the home gets too hot.
Developers created the device as a way to combat the city’s energy demands and problems. They believe the smart plug can keep people from running their air conditioners all day long in the hot summer months.
By becoming a smart plug user, residents can turn off their air conditioner from work if they accidentally left it on in the morning. They can also turn on their device prior to leaving work allowing them to walk into to a coolly-conditioned home.
The device also gives residents the opportunity to learn how much energy their particular system uses and how they can save money by monitoring their usage.
"We're definitely crossing over into segments of the population that normally did not care about energy efficiency, being drawn into it because it's a cool product," Shibata said. "It leaves a permanent impression, to the point where we hear about it from the consumer. It's been a great education tool for people."