This project's funding goal was not reached on March 20, 2013.
About this project
Missed the Kickstarter? Check us out at yshape.com
The HeatMeter is an internet-connected sensor that helps lower your energy consumption, save on heating costs and reduce your carbon footprint. You can track energy usage, see how much of a difference your changes are making, and compare your home’s efficiency against similar homes. It’s the first energy monitor that is compatible with natural gas, propane and oil heating systems.
- Measure the results of your efficiency efforts & how much that’s worth
- Monitor your carbon footprint
- Reducing energy use and saving money as a bonus!
- Set energy goals and track your progress
- Know when to get your heating system serviced (efficiency loss)
- Avoid getting surprised by high energy bills, by knowing every day’s usage
- Monitor your tank level and make sure you never run out (for propane and oil systems)
- Monitor vacation homes remotely
- Receive alerts (text message or email) upon abnormal heating system operation (eg. it's below freezing outside and your heating system hasn't turned on for over 10 hours)
The HeatMeter sensor attaches to your furnace or boiler magnetically, like a refrigerator magnet. It detects when the flame in your heating system turns on and off. It sends this information over the internet through your home’s WiFi connection, where it gets combined with some basic information about your home. When setting up your HeatMeter, you type in your home’s square footage, zip code, and heating system model. This all gets processed and sent to your smartphone. You can also view this information from your computer.
The hardware does not interfere with the operation of your heating system. No electricians, plumbers or technicians are needed for installation.
Below is a video demonstration of the HeatMeter on an oil-fired boiler; the same method works with furnaces as as well, whether fired by oil, propane or gas.
Because of its ability to time the duration of the flame directly, the HeatMeter is much more accurate than smart thermostats, which only have one-way communication with the heating system. A thermostat can only know how long it commands the heating system to turn on, but can't know exactly how long the flame was on and how much fuel was consumed.
Measurement Accuracy Comparison:
For heating systems with furnaces:
- HeatMeter: within ± 2.6% of actual
- Smart thermostat: within ± 10.2% of actual
For heating systems with boilers:
- HeatMeter: within ± 3.1% of actual
- Smart thermostat: greater than 50% error
- Quick and easy to set up
- High-strength magnets for easy, secure attachment
- Compatible with almost every furnace or boiler that runs on gas, propane or oil
- Data is updated every time that the heating system turns on and off
- “set-it-and-forget-it”, no maintenance, no batteries to replace
- Sensor dimensions: 4.41” x 2.44” x 1.25”
- Durable, injection molded case
- Manufactured in the USA
- Cloud-based interface; nothing to download or update
- Mobile-optimized, works with apple, android and blackberry phones and tablets
- The HeatMeter sensor can log up to one month's worth of heating system operation (or 50,000 on/off cycles) in on-board memory, without a WiFi connection. It will then upload this data once it re-connects to WiFi. This is useful in case your home briefly loses internet connectivity; your data will not be lost.
The HeatMeter: The T-Shirt:
• HeatMeter sensor + power cable • XS, S, M, L, XL or XXL
• Free monitoring for life
• Free software upgrades for life
We live in the northeastern US, where an average home can pay over $2,500 per winter for heating. We wanted to lower our consumption, but saw that there was nothing out there for tracking energy the usage of oil, propane or natural gas systems.
The questions we wanted to answer:
- How do I know that my consumption went down because of my own actions, or just because it was warmer outside today?
- Am I paying more for heating because my house is larger?
- Or, because I keep my house warmer?
- Or, because my house is older and less efficient?
- I know that adding insulation helps, but is it really worth the investment?
We noticed that our neighbors had the same problems. So we set out to create a tool that allowed people to make informed decisions on truly reducing their energy consumption, not just relying on guesswork and rules-of-thumb that are not very accurate (especially for engineering geeks like us). Tracking your progress and seeing your savings in real-time is a great motivator too.
Marian Gogoana: electrical engineer with 30+ years of experience designing industrial automations controls.
Radu Gogoana: mechanical engineer, specializing in thermal modeling and data analysis
Jim Whittaker: business development and strategy advisor, retired navy admiral, experience includes running a $20 million dollar private software company and managing automated warehouse systems.
As our 3rd generation HeatMeter sensor, we designed it for manufacturability from the start. Our plastic enclosure is injection-molded and what you see in the video are the final production parts, not prototypes. Our circuit board is designed from the start for automatic assembly and will be populated by a supplier we have worked with in the past.
Fulfillment plans: final major component assembly, packaging and order fulfillment is done from our company's facility in New Hampshire.
Previous manufacturing experience: Our team founded two companies, Yshape and Flex-In, which have supplied laminated catalogs for clients such as Ikea North America since 1999. We designed our own automated manufacturing equipment, and every sheet in every catalog has to leave our facility with no mistakes! Our experience in equipment design, manufacturing, quality control, supply chain management and order fulfillment carries over directly into this project.
We want to help reduce the amount of fossil fuels that are burned each year for residential heating (natural gas, oil and propane). Awareness inspires action, and we are now able to provide homeowners with key efficiency metrics that were previously very difficult to get. This allows people to make better decisions on improving their home, reducing their energy use and saving money as a bonus!
Studies on the impact of energy monitors for electricity have shown a reduction of up to 17% across hundreds of homes, from homeowners simply being able to see a live dashboard of their energy consumption and tracking the impact of their behavior. The HeatMeter now makes this possible for oil, gas and propane heating.
We aim to reduce energy consumption in a way that’s affordable, convenient and beneficial to everyone who has to pay the heating bill each month. We hope you’ll support us!
Music credits: "Divider" by Chris Zabriskie - check him out at http://chriszabriskie.com/
Risks and challenges
We've worked hard to test the reliability of our sensor on every type of heating system, and to design the hardware for manufacturing; we've been in over 35 homes and encountered just about every problem from funky radio signals to strange-acting heating systems. With this experience, our greatest risk is the "unknown uknowns" - random bugs that pop up seemingly out of nowhere. Our development team is on standby to handle these problems.
The plastic housing of the sensor is injection-molded and ready for production. The PCB electronic assembly is done by our supplier in a fully-automated process. We've built 109 prototypes for testing and have worked to ensure that our final design is ready for mass production.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
The HeatMeter measures the duty cycle of the flame in your furnace or boiler. When you set up the HeatMeter for the first time, you enter the rated heating capacity of your boiler (BTU/h, gal/hr or KW), or just send us the model number of your heating system, so we know how much energy it uses per hour of operation. We then combine this information with the outside temperature in your area (zip-code based), the square footage of your home (you input this when setting up the HeatMeter) and we're then able to provide efficiency analytics for your home.
For propane and natural-gas burning pool heaters: If your pool heater is mounted indoors, if you can get a WiFi signal near where it is, and if you can hear it turn on by standing next to it, then yes! Pool heaters are fundamentally very similar to hydronic boilers for home heating and the HeatMeter will pick up the same flame-on vibration signature.
When you first power up your HeatMeter, it will create its own wireless network, named “HeatMeter”, that you can connect to for configuration (including security setup) using your laptop or smartphone. Once that’s done, the HeatMeter will connect to your local WiFi network and the internet!
The HeatMeter’s WiFi reception is comparable with what most laptops are capable of. If your laptop can get WiFi reception in the basement (or wherever your furnace/boiler is located), then you are set! If out of WiFi range, you still can use the Heat meter as a logger (storing data) that can be uploaded when and where WiFi is available.
Yes, you can download the sequence of on/off times for the past 6 months for your home. This will be available on our website.
The HeatMeter works with natural gas, propane, and oil burning boilers and furnaces. It is compatible with about 90% of heating systems (single or dual stage). There are a few particular systems that cannot be measured with the HeatMeter:
• Boilers that are almost completely silent (i.e. if you can stand next to it while it’s on and you can barely hear the flame).
• Variable-speed furnaces and boilers (about 5% of all heating systems in the US). These heating systems have modulating flames which aren’t “full-on” or “full-off”.
If you're still unsure about your particular heating system, please send us the model number and we'll check!
- (30 days)