FilterWatch might be the only energy efficiency device for the smart home that will actually pay for itself in just a couple months. During the peak season for your region, your HVAC makes up 50-70% of your total energy bill. We want to help you make sure that your system is running as efficiently as possible.
The filter on your heater and A/C helps keep your air clean in your house, but when it gets clogged, it causes your system to work harder than it has to, and less effectively at that. The Department of Energy says that a clean filter can reduce your HVAC energy consumption 5-15%. As the filter gets more clogged, you end up spending more and more on energy, and your air quality diminishes.
Most filters are sold with a suggested change date, but there’s two main problems with that: first, every house is different, so those suggestions might be right for some people and completely off for others, and in between for everyone else. Several factors determine how quickly your filter will become ineffective including the number of family members, pets, carpet, filter location, susceptibility to allergens, and home location just to name a few. Second, we sometimes forget when we installed a filter, or when the suggested date comes along to change them.
What results is extra stress on your HVAC (shortening its life), extra energy used (costing you money), and compromised indoor air quality. While some HVAC thermostats tell occupants when to change filters, those suggestions are based more on run time than on actual need, meaning you may change filters too frequently or too infrequently...as we said, all houses are different, so why not get the right answer, the one based on data?
The Birth of FilterWatch
After getting fed up with $800 electricity bills, I realized that I had no real way to tell when the filters on my A/C needed changing. This has lead us here with FilterWatch, a simple device that measures how clogged your air filter is and alerts you when its time to be changed. FilterWatch monitors the airflow going into your filter. Slow airflow means less filtering and longer run times! When the airflow gets to be too slow, an alarm on the FilterWatch will go off. Simple and effective, and the benefits are huge!
Check this out
If your filter is clogged 20%, your HVAC runs 20% longer. So if your HVAC was running 5 hours a day with a new filter, its now running 6 hours a day. A typical HVAC unit will use 3kW in an hour. So figure that extra 1 hour will cost you $.30 if your service provider charges you $.1/kWh. That doesn't sound like a lot but...
- if you ran it that way for 30 days, that's $9 (for 1 extra hour every 24hrs). Over a year, it would amount to ~$100 if you’re consistently running your HVAC with a somewhat clogged filter. If your avg. price/kWh is $.15, that's $13.5 per month, or over $150 per year. In Hawaii, where electricity is about $0.35/kWh, you’re talking ~$350 per year!
- if you have 2 HVAC units, double those figures.
- if your system runs 15hrs/day in your peak season, triple them!
- Turns out while developing the prototypes, I learned my filters are 30-35% clogged after 20 days. So that $9 we started with, might actually be $15 depending on your own home’s individual usage. FilterWatch will pinpoint the best time for you to change your filter based on your situation.
- HVAC units can use anywhere between 2 and 5 kW depending on the size. We used 3 in our numbers above.
footnote: If you believe the numbers we used are high, check out your average electricity rate HERE.
Just attach FilterWatch to a vent in your house (return vent is best), press the start button and wait for FilterWatch to alert you when your filter needs changing.
I'm going to save a boat load of money and we expect a lot of you will as well whether its cooling in the summer or heating in the winter.
Most of us will spend over 90% of our lives indoors and over 50% of that will be in our own homes.
This makes our HVAC system(s) an integral part of our LIVES!
For most of us, our HVAC system is the primary method for filtering the air that we breathe AND it is the #1 source of energy usage in our homes. With something so important in our lives, it makes sense that we should pay extra attention to make sure that it is working as efficiently as possible.
Thanks for your support!
How far along are we?
We've built several FilterWatch monitors to work out issues with different readings based on part variance and manufacturing variance.
You can follow along our progress and understand some key decisions we have to make along the way. Just go to our blog HERE.
This is the simplest and lowest cost option. Attach it to a return vent, start it, wait for led/beeper to alert you that your filter is clogged. For a low battery, the alert will be different. The BASIC model has a connector that will support a relay output, a serial bus, and other signals as needed. ---UPDATE--- we have added an LCD to all models that will allow for added functionality.
This reward includes a BASIC module with a ZigBee wireless module. This model will support SmartThings, WigWag, and the Almond+.
These plans are subject to change but they are targets as of now. See updates on our blog. (coming soon)
(UPDATE) - We are already committed to building 275 FilterWatch devices from a previous crowd fund. We would like to build an additional 250 minimum to reduce our part costs.
With the funds we hope to gather here we will have the package professionally designed and put into molds. The current prototype PCB will be made much smaller and we will design individual wireless modules that plug into the basic module.
The "fund priority" below is an example of how the funds will be dispersed depending the amount available. You can see below the priority 1 line items are those things that we MUST have done because we lack the internal resources.
1. Package design
1. Package molds
1. PCB/Electronic parts
2. PCB Assembly
3. PCB Layout
4. Final Assembly and test
We are not waiting around, we've already started!!
Nov: First molded parts and first assembled PCBs for validation
Dec: First fully assembled PCB, and plastic parts start arriving for final assembly and test.
Jan: Final Assembly and Test complete
Jan/Feb 2014: Product start shipping
Jan: Wireless Testing and FCC certification - TBD
Feb 2014: Manufacturing and test
Mar 2014: Product start shipping
Mike Mayer (Partner) - SIma Engineering
John Pollock (Partner) - Innovation Play
Dr. Brent Stephens (Advisor), Illinios Institute of Technology - BIO
Risks and challenges
Of course we have done everything we can to minimize our risk and challenges. We copied the a certified wireless design of the ZigBee transceiver that we expect to work on the first crack. We are not so concerned about certification unless we win the top prize of a contest we are competing in because we have already copied the design before and gotten it to work the first time. We can self certify initially and if we get the funds, we will get FCC approvals. Sometimes PCB differences pop up with different manufacturers.
We are going to develop the to the ZigBee HA standards. But we also need to work with 3 companies to make sure it works with them. That is a lot of effort for us to take on, again, unless things go smoothly. Winning the afore mentioned top prize would allow us to add a body to speed everything up and minimize any should we have large hiccups.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
Support this project
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