SYSTEM, METHOD AND APPARATUS FOR TEMPERATURE CONTROL
An apparatus is described herein that includes a graphical user interface configured to receive input from a user through touch interaction a thermostat folder configured to be displayed on the graphical user interface. The thermostat folder is configured, when invoked, to initiate displaying of a thermostat screen, the thermostat screen including a temperature setting scale such that a desired temperature is set to a requested value selected by the touch interaction of the user with the temperature setting scale.
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This application is a divisional of prior application Ser. No. 12/581,750, filed on Oct. 19, 2009, the entirety of which is hereby incorporated by reference.BACKGROUND
1. Field of the Invention
The present invention relates to utility metering, and in particular to utility control, monitoring and conservation using real-time communication and feedback through comparative usage statistics.
2. Background Art
Usage measurement by utility providers is a routine process whereby utility providers seek to measure the usage of the commodity involved (e.g., water, gas, electricity) by each consumer. Consumers are then billed based on their usage at periodic times, typically monthly. Traditionally, usage was measured manually by utility workers who visited each point-of-use location and read the utility meter to ascertain the usage since the previous reading. In fact, the oldest style utility meters supported only visual reading. Such manual measurements posed a variety of issues, such as the time and cost of visiting every meter each month, obtaining access to each meter during difficult weather conditions, as well as the cost of human error in reading the meters and the resulting public relations consequences.
The next generation meters, known as automatic meter reading (“AMR”) devices, were designed to offset the above manual meter reading issues. AMR devices permit automated or semi-automated reading of meters as an alternative to having the utility workers physically access every meter each month. Various technologies are used for AMR meter readings including radio and powerline networking links. By using these various technologies to remotely read every meter, the cost of human access and human error are substantially reduced. For example, utility workers can use handheld computers coupled with short range transceivers to remotely interrogate every meter from the street. The AMR approach avoids the need for the same level of physical access to each meter, automates the entry of each meter reading, and reduces the likelihood of reading and transcription errors.
More advanced AMR devices use electronic communication such that each meter device can communicate directly to the utility company computer systems, without the need for a utility worker to physically approach every meter each month. Such electronic communication takes the form of either wired or wireless communications. Wired communications includes telephone line connectivity, as well as power-line communications to forward the usage data back to the utility company computers. Wireless communications includes the use of radio frequencies (RF) and other suitable high frequencies for data transmission to the utility company computers. The choice between wired and wireless communications is typically driven by density of meter locations in a given area, as well as by the existence of telephone wiring in the particular area.
Thus, in its various forms, AMR devices provide a more cost-effective and less error-prone approach to the routine collection of utility usage data. However, new utility challenges have arisen that expose the limitations of AMR devices. For example, the limited communications bandwidths used by AMR devices do not enable utility companies to readily receive usage data on a more frequent basis. As such, access to additional data such as usage over various times of the day at each location is thwarted by low bandwidth connectivity between each meter location and the utility company. Thus, the modern-day need for utility companies to better understand the usage profile of each customer demands receipt of real-time data, and thus a real-time communications protocol. In addition, the passage by Congress of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 mandates that each public utility regulator consider the provision of a time-based rate schedule. Time-based rate schedules provide utility commodities (e.g., electricity, water, gas) at variable prices during a 24-hour period, with higher prices being charged during peak loading periods. For a customer to be able to take advantage of time-based rate schedules, utilities are thereby challenged to provide advanced metering, control and communications technologies.
The initial response to these challenges and the Congressional legislation has been the latest generation of meters, namely the Advanced Metering Infrastructure (“AMI”) meters. Unlike AMR meters, AMI meters offer two-way communication between the meter and the utility company. Usage data is transmitted to the utility company, while messages are forwarded to the customer from the utility company. In addition, AMI meters can also control and/or monitor home appliances by communicating to the home appliances using a short range wireless protocol, such as Zigbee wireless protocol. Communication between the numerous AMI meters and the utility company creates a communications network topology. The AMI network topology is typically a mesh structure formed by each of the AMI meters in a particular area.
AMI meters are often referred to as “smart meters” since they can store data over a period of time for subsequent retrieval and transmission. However, the bandwidth of an AMI meter and its associated communications network are typically narrow, and therefore data updates to and from the utility company are slow. For example, data updates may be limited to being no faster than every 15 minutes. Thus, real-time load management is not available to the utility company. In addition, the ability for customers to receive and view real-time usage data also limits their understanding of actual usage patterns over a typical day. Thus, such narrow bandwidths preclude meaningful real-time management by the utility company as well as the comprehensive understanding of real-time customer usage so necessary to take advantage of the Congressionally-mandated variable pricing schedules.
Thus, although AMI meters are capable of storage and subsequent transmission of usage data over a range of periods of time, various usage, control and conservation challenges are left unaddressed.BRIEF SUMMARY
What is needed is a system, apparatus and method to provide real-time management of utility loads on a per-customer basis, as well as receive real-time usage data to facilitate better understanding of customer usage. In addition, it is desirable that customers can control their appliances to take advantage of variable rate schedules offered by the utility companies. Further, it is desirable that customers receive comparative usage data on a regular basis in order to make and implement informed changes in their utility usage patterns.
In one embodiment of the present invention, a legacy AMR meter can be provided with two-way communication functionality. An IP multi-media device communicates with the AMR meter using the particular interface the AMR meter supports. The interface includes Zigbee, 900 MHz and narrowband powerline network interfaces. The IP multi-media device in turn communicates with the central monitoring station and forwards usage data to the central monitoring station. Using its bidirectional communication link, the IP multi-media device also receives commands from the central monitoring such as meter reading requests. In an optional embodiment, the IP multi-media device also communicates with controllable appliances on the consumer premises. Controllable appliances include thermostats, HVAC systems, hot-water heaters, etc. Communication with the controllable appliances includes providing monitoring/control commands using a suitable communication interface, e.g., a Zigbee transceiver with a Smart Energy Profile. The IP multi-media device can receive remote utility management commands (e.g., for demand-response control) from the central monitoring station and forward appropriate monitoring/control commands to the controllable appliances in response to the remote utility management commands.
In a further embodiment of the present invention, a communications device (or IP multi-media device) is provided that receives usage data from a utility meter (which can be any form of utility meter having the ability to communicate, including an AMR or an AMI meter), and forwards this data to a central monitoring station using a real-time communications link. Using the same real-time communications link, the communications device receives control signals, data and information from the central monitoring station. In an optional embodiment, the data and/or information is displayed on a visual interface.
In a still further embodiment of the present invention, the communications device (or IP multi-media device) includes a processing device which can be algorithmically programmed to respond to received control signals, data and information from the central monitoring station. Such algorithmic response includes adjusting one or more appliances in response to a particular customer profile. Real-time usage in excess of certain goals can result in powering down appliances.
In a still further embodiment of the present invention, the communications device (or IP multi-media device) forwards the received usage data to a data aggregator using a real-time communications link. Using the same real-time communications link, the communications device receives aggregated data and/or statistical data (e.g., peer group usage data) from the data aggregator. Based on the received aggregated data and/or statistical data, the data can be displayed on a visual interface of the communications device and/or actions can be taken in response to the received data, such as providing instructions to one or more appliances.
Further embodiments, features, and advantages of the invention, as well as the structure and operation of the various embodiments of the invention are described in detail below with reference to the accompanying drawings.
Embodiments of the present invention are described with reference to the accompanying drawings. In the drawings, like reference numbers indicate identical or functionally similar elements.
While the present invention is described herein with reference to illustrative embodiments for particular applications, it should be understood that the invention is not limited thereto. Those skilled in the art with access to the teachings provided herein will recognize additional modifications, applications, and embodiments within the scope thereof and additional fields in which the present invention would be of significant utility.Introduction
AMI meter 210 also communicates using intra-customer communications path 250 with appliances 240a through 240z located in the customer's premises. For example, AMI meter 210 communicates with thermostat 240a. Intra-customer communications path 250 uses protocols such as Zigbee, and narrow bandwidths at frequencies such as 900 MHz to effect the required two-way communications. Thus, signals from utility company 230 can be forwarded via AMI meter 210 through to customer appliance 240a, and thereby effect a change of setting on customer appliance 240a, e.g., thermostat. However, as noted above, AMI communications path 220 is typically slow and therefore limits the effective functionality available to the consumer and the utility company.Example of an Advanced Metering Solution: Control, Monitoring, and Conservation
Continuing to refer to
Still referring to
Customer link 350 enables IP multi-media device 310 to forward usage data recorded by at least one of AMR meter 110 and AMI meter 210 to central monitoring station 330. In addition, customer link 350 enables IP multi-media device 310 to receive control signals, data and other information from central monitoring station 330. Control signals include, but are not limited to, requests for appliances to be shut down (and conversely to be allowed to power up). Control signals are particularly useful for central monitoring station 330 to shape its load at any time during the day so as to minimize the load peaks which typically result in the highest marginal prices to consumers. Thus, IP multi-media device 310 receives these control signals and either allows them to pass through to targeted household appliances that are not in direct communication with IP multi-media device 310, or alternatively redirects the control signals to appliances 240a through 240z, which are in communication with IP multi-media device 310.
As noted above, in addition to control signals, data is communicated to IP multi-media device 310, where such data can include variable pricing data. By providing variable pricing data to customers, customers can tailor their usage (e.g., by switching off certain appliances) to minimize their utility usage costs. The communication of variable pricing data to customers requires that the utility company through central monitoring station 330 be able to capture real-time usage data so that the appropriate variable price rates can be matched against the actual usage during each time interval of interest.
In addition to communicating with central monitoring station 330, IP multi-media device 310 also communicates with appliances 240a through 240z through internal communication link 360. In an exemplary embodiment, internal communications link 360 uses a Zigbee-based protocol. Other protocols and frequency bands commensurate with FCC regulations and the desired information bandwidths are also contemplated to be within the spirit of internal communications link 360. Appliances 240a through 240z include, but are not limited to, thermostats, water heaters, washers, dryers, and lighting. Appliances 240a through 240z can be controlled at the customer premises remotely by IP multi-media device 310 to accomplish conventional functionality (such as programming the thermostats to follow a temperature curve based on time of day, e.g., raise the temperature of residential premises at night while occupied, while lower the temperature of residential premises by day while unoccupied). Since IP multi-media device 310 in an exemplary embodiment is connected to the Internet via customer link 350, customers are also able to remotely program appliances 240a through 240z while away from the customer premises using remote connectivity, e.g., via the Internet.
Thus, in one embodiment of the present invention, a legacy AMR meter 110 can be provided with two-way communication functionality. In another embodiment, a legacy AMI meter 210 can be provided with broadband communication functionality. In either embodiment, IP multi-media device 310 communicates with the legacy meter using the particular interface that the meter supports. The interface includes Zigbee, 900 MHz and narrowband powerline network interfaces. IP multi-media device 310 in turn communicates with the central monitoring station 330 and forwards usage data to central monitoring station 330. Using its bidirectional customer link 350, IP multi-media device 310 also receives commands from central monitoring station 330 such as meter reading requests. As noted above, IP multi-media device 310 can also communicate with controllable appliances 240a through 240z on the consumer premises. Controllable appliances 240a through 240z include thermostats, HVAC systems, hot-water heaters, etc. Communication with the controllable appliances 240a through 240z includes providing monitoring/control commands uses a suitable communication interface, e.g., a Zigbee transceiver with a Smart Energy Profile. IP multi-media device 310 can receive remote utility management commands (e.g., for demand-response control) from central monitoring station 330 and forward appropriate monitoring/control commands to the controllable appliances 240a through 240z in response to the remote utility management commands.
Smart versions of appliances 240a through 240z, or embodiments of IP multi-media device 310, can receive information such as weather forecasts and ambient humidity data via two-way customer link 350 from an appropriate provider of such information, e.g., weather service, weather.com, etc. In the case of a smart version of appliance 240a through 240z, IP multi-media device 310 forwards at least a portion of the received information, including a command if necessary, to smart version of appliance 240a through 240z. Based on this received weather forecast and ambient humidity information, appliances 240a through 240z can adjust their settings, e.g., controlling HVAC system based on received heat index information. As a further example, if appliance 240 knows the temperature will become cold in the evening, appliance 240 can shut off an air conditioner earlier. Similarly, based on humidity information, if the ambient humidity is low, appliance 240 can adjust the comfort temperature range to a higher temperature in summer, or a lower temperature in winter.
In addition to the ability to program and configure appliances 240a through 240z, IP multi-media device 310 can also include a computing device 1100 to execute algorithms so as to control appliances 240a through 240z in response to control signals, data and other information received from central monitoring station 330. For example, algorithms can be included so that appliances 240a through 240z are shut down or powered up depending on load conditions at the utility company. More sophisticated algorithms can be included so that appliances 240a through 240z can be controlled in response to real-time pricing fluctuations so that customer usage costs are thereby optimized. Other algorithms can be included so that appliances 240a through 240z can be controlled in accordance with a desired customer usage profile, a utility conservation objective, or other usage goals.
In addition to serving as the connection node on the customer premises and to incorporate algorithmic responses to control signals, data or information received from central monitoring station 330, IP multi-media device 310 can also include simple and user-friendly interface for display of information, and for ease of use in appliance control and programming With respect to appliance programming, studies show that people almost never reprogram their programmable thermostat after initial installation. Thermostats typically have limited interfaces, making such programming difficult or, at best, tedious. Moreover, it is generally impossible to get a convenient display of what is actually programmed for the course of a week or to switch between set programs.
Embodiments of the current invention introduce several improvements to the programming of connected appliances 240a through 240z. User-friendly improvements include:
- (1) icon-driven user interface;
- (2) easy appliance setting, such as dragging the temperature setting over the scale using your finger. Optionally, one can allow users to drag multiple temperature settings over a timeline to program an entire day;
- (3) week-at-glance view by providing a graphical depiction of appliance settings (such as temperature settings) for the entire week;
- (4) guided wizard or explicit modification options;
- (5) definition of daily profiles, such as weekday, weekend, and away. For multi-zone control, embodiments of the current invention can further qualify the profiles to include “in bed”, “watching TV”, “dining” etc. These profiles can be assigned to days of the week or to specific calendar dates;
- (6) synchronize with a networked or local calendar to select specific profiles. For example, identify out-of-home vacations. With demand-response control, this information can be propagated to the utility to allow it to exert more aggressive control over the consumer premises;
- (7) provide comfort range and control range settings. A consumer defines a comfort range from a minimum temperature, Tmin (e.g., 66-77° F.). This covers the range for all seasons, avoiding the need for separate heat/cool settings. The thermostat controller (either the thermostat or a separate controlling device, such as OpenFrame® device from OpenPeak Inc.) will operate the furnace or air conditioner if the ambient temperature falls outside this range until the temperature drops (for air conditioning) or increases (for heat) by some value, Δ°. This value can be preset to some value, such as 3° F., or can be learned by the device to optimize the duty cycle of the furnace and air conditioners; and
- (8) a graphically rich display of IP multi-media device 310, multiple on-wall appliances such as thermostats can be programmed from a central place. Thus, one simple user-friendly interface can replace a multiplicity of difficult to use interfaces for each of the appliances 240a through 240z. Exemplary embodiments of the simple and user-friendly interface are shown in
FIGS. 4 and 5.
As noted above, the user interface of IP multi-media device 310 can display received information. In an exemplary embodiment, IP multi-media device 310 can display multiple views of information related to utility usage at the customer premises. By way of example, and not by way of limitation, those multiple views can include energy usage history, thermostat control interface, advertising interface, conservation tips and a settings view. The energy usage history information provided can include usage over any time interval (e.g., hourly, daily or monthly view), as well as accumulated cost over those same time periods. Such a display also can accommodate variable pricing as well as providing a visual display of actual usage and associated actual costs versus other parameters. For example, actual usage could be displayed versus goals, or versus peer group usage. An exemplary embodiment of the display capability is shown in
In a further optional feature, IP multi-media device 310 can also receive targeted advertising from outside sources (including central monitoring station 330) on its user interface, as well as providing utility usage conservation tips. An exemplary embodiment of the advertising portal functionality is shown in
Finally, IP multi-media device 310 can optionally contain a further communications interface for connections to an external device, for various purposes including test purposes, maintenance, update purposes, as well as providing additional remote programming opportunities. Such a communications interface can be realized using Wi-Fi, Ethernet, Bluetooth, Zigbee, Z-Wave, 900 MHz transceiver or a USB port.Example of an Advanced Metering Solution: Data Aggregation
Thus, providing such information to consumers encourages better energy use by providing consumers with comparative real-time feedback from a community of energy consumers. In addition, messages can be sent to participants relating to their relative consumption of energy, e.g. “Your neighbors with homes like yours have average electric bills of $400/month. Why is yours $600/month?” The community or peer concept can include the immediate neighborhood or comparable houses in the same climate zone. In addition, comparative usage (power, water, gas, etc.) can be shown in near-real time. For example, a graph of average, minimum and maximum usage can be shown overlaid on the consumer's usage.
In a further embodiment, better energy use can be enabled by providing real-time and appliance-specific data. For example, a plug-in monitoring module for power (or equivalently a flow-meter for water and gas) can provide a consumer with the amount of usage provided via a specific outlet. This data can be used to partition the consumer's graph of overall usage into components. Components can also be created from statistical data, such as known values for average washer/dryer use (at specific settings) or refrigerator use (again at specific settings).
Data aggregator 920 and central monitoring station 330 can be managed by separate organizations, with central monitoring station 330 being a part of a utility company and data aggregator 920 being a part of a separate third party. However, in an exemplary embodiment of the present invention, data aggregator 920 and central monitoring station 330 can both be a part of a utility company.
The breadth and scope of the present invention is not limited to electricity usage, control, monitoring and conservation. The use of AMR meters 110 and AMI meters 210 is for exemplary purposes only. Embodiments of the present invention are applicable to all utility usage, control, monitoring and conservation situations. Embodiments of the present invention include, but are not limited to situations involving electricity, gas and water. In an exemplary embodiment, IP multi-media device 310 can be connected to a mixture of electricity, gas and water meters, and also be connected the associated central monitoring stations for electricity, gas and water utility companies.Example of a Method for Advanced Energy Use Control
The process begins at step 1010. In step 1010, usage data is received by a communication device from a utility meter. The communication device could be provided by IP multi-media device 310, as illustrated in
In step 1020, the received usage data is forwarded by the communication device to central monitoring station 330 via customer link 3100, as illustrated in
In step 1030, at least one of control signals, data and information are received by the communication device from the central monitoring station via customer link 3100.
In optional step 1040, the received control signals, data and/or information are acted upon by IP multi-media device 310 and appliances are adjusted using intra-customer communications path 2100. The appliances can be provided, for example, by appliances 240a through 240z, as illustrated in
In optional step 1050, the received data and/or information are displayed on a user interface of IP multi-media device 310. Appliances can be adjusted manually be customers. Alternatively, IP multi-media device 310 can apply algorithms on the basis of the received data and/or information, and adjust the appliances based on those algorithms.
In optional step 1060, advertising is received by IP multi-media device 310 and displayed on its user interface.
In optional step 1070, usage data can be forwarded via a database communications link 910 to a database 930, wherein aggregated and/or statistical data can be determined and returned via database communications link 910 to IP multi-media device 310 for at least one of display, manual action by customer, or an algorithmic adjustment of appliances 240a through 240z by IP multi-media device 310.
At step 1080, method 1000 ends.Computer System Implementation
Computer 1100 includes one or more processors (also called central processing units, or CPUs), such as processor 1110. Processor 1110 can include the Intel Atom™ processor. Processor 1110 is connected to communication bus 1120. Computer 1100 also includes a main or primary memory 1130, preferably random access memory (RAM). Primary memory 1130 has stored therein control logic (computer software), and data.
Computer 1100 may also include one or more secondary storage devices 1140. Secondary storage devices 1140 include, for example, hard disk drive 1150 and/or removable storage device or drive 1160. Removable storage drive 1160 represents a floppy disk drive, a magnetic tape drive, a compact disk drive, an optical storage device, tape backup, ZIP drive, JAZZ drive, etc.
Removable storage drive 1160 interacts with removable storage unit 1170. As will be appreciated, removable storage unit 1160 includes a computer usable or readable storage medium having stored therein computer software (control logic) and/or data. Removable storage drive 1160 reads from and/or writes to the removable storage unit 1170 in a well known manner.
Removable storage unit 1170, also called a program storage device or a computer program product, represents a floppy disk, magnetic tape, compact disk, optical storage disk, ZIP disk, JAZZ disk/tape, or any other computer data storage device. Program storage devices or computer program products also include any device in which computer programs can be stored, such as hard drives, ROM or memory cards, etc.
In an embodiment, the present invention is directed to computer program products or program storage devices having software that enables computer 1100, or multiple computer 1100s to perform any combination of the functions described herein.
Computer programs (also called computer control logic) are stored in main memory 1130 and/or the secondary storage devices 1140. Such computer programs, when executed, direct computer 1100 to perform the functions of the present invention as discussed herein. In particular, the computer programs, when executed, enable processor 1110 to perform the functions of the present invention. Accordingly, such computer programs represent controllers of the computer 1100.
Computer 1100 also includes input/output/display devices 1180, such as monitors, keyboards, pointing devices, etc.
Computer 1100 further includes a communication or network interface 1190. Network interface 1190 enables computer 1100 to communicate with remote devices. For example, network interface 1190 allows computer 1100 to communicate over communication networks, such as LANs, WANs, the Internet, etc. Network interface 1190 may interface with remote sites or networks via wired or wireless connections. Computer 1100 receives data and/or computer programs via network interface 1190.
The invention can work with software, hardware, and operating system implementations other than those described herein. Any software, hardware, and operating system implementations suitable for performing the functions described herein can be used.
It is to be appreciated that the Detailed Description section, and not the Summary and Abstract sections, is intended to be used to interpret the claims. The Summary and Abstract sections may set forth one or more but not all exemplary embodiments of the present invention as contemplated by the inventor(s), and thus, are not intended to limit the present invention and the appended claims in any way.
The present invention has been described above with the aid of functional building blocks illustrating the implementation of specified functions and relationships thereof. The boundaries of these functional building blocks have been arbitrarily defined herein for the convenience of the description. Alternate boundaries can be defined so long as the specified functions and relationships thereof are appropriately performed.
The foregoing description of the specific embodiments will so fully reveal the general nature of the invention that others can, by applying knowledge within the skill of the art, readily modify and/or adapt for various applications such specific embodiments, without undue experimentation, without departing from the general concept of the present invention. Therefore, such adaptations and modifications are intended to be within the meaning and range of equivalents of the disclosed embodiments, based on the teaching and guidance presented herein. It is to be understood that the phraseology or terminology herein is for the purpose of description and not of limitation, such that the terminology or phraseology of the present specification is to be interpreted by the skilled artisan in light of the teachings and guidance.
The breadth and scope of the present invention should not be limited by any of the above-described exemplary embodiments, but should be defined only in accordance with the following claims and their equivalents.
1. An apparatus, comprising:
- a graphical user interface configured to receive input from a user through touch interaction; and
- a thermostat folder configured to be displayed on the graphical user interface, wherein the thermostat folder is configured, when invoked, to initiate displaying of a thermostat screen, the thermostat screen including a temperature setting scale such that a desired temperature is set to a requested value selected by the touch interaction of the user with the temperature setting scale.
2. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein the desired temperature is displayed on the temperature setting scale using a magnified scale or otherwise shown using a size scale other than a default scale.
3. The apparatus of claim 1, further comprising:
- one or more additional folders configured to be displayed on the graphical user interface, wherein the one or more additional folders include at least one of energy use folder, ways to save folder, and settings folder.
4. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein the thermostat screen is further configured to display at least one of inside temperature, outside temperature, inside humidity and outside humidity.
5. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein the graphic user interface is configured to be coupled to a HVAC device such that the HVAC device is controlled, at least in part, by the requested value selected by the user.
6. The apparatus of claim 5, wherein a fan of the HVAC device is further controlled by a fan setting of the thermostat screen, the fan setting including one or more of an on setting, an auto setting and an off setting.
7. The apparatus of claim 5, wherein the HVAC device is further controlled by a heat/cool setting of the thermostat screen.
8. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein the graphical user interface is configured to display current time and day.
9. A method, comprising:
- displaying, using a computing device, a graphical user interface having a temperature setting scale on a thermostat screen; and
- receiving input from a user through touch interaction with the temperature setting scale to set a desired temperature to a requested value.
10. The method of claim 9, further comprising:
- displaying, using the computing device, the thermostat screen by invoking a thermostat folder on the display.
11. The method of claim 9, further comprising:
- displaying, using the computing device, the desired temperature on the temperature setting scale using a magnified scale, or otherwise shown using a size scale other than a default scale.
12. The method of claim 9, further comprising:
- displaying, using the computing device, on the thermostat screen at least one of inside temperature, outside temperature, inside humidity and outside humidity.
13. The method of claim 9, further comprising:
- controlling, using the computing device, an HVAC device based, at lest in part, by the requested value, wherein the HVAC device is coupled to the touch panel.
14. The method of claim 13, wherein the controlling the HVAC device includes controlling a fan of the HVAC device by a fan setting of the touch panel, the fan setting including one or more of an on setting, an auto setting and an off setting.
15. The method of claim 13, wherein the controlling the HVAC device includes controlling the HVAC device by a heat/cool setting of the touch panel.
16. The method of claim 9, further comprising:
- displaying, using the computing device, current time and day on the touch panel.
17. An apparatus, comprising:
- a touchscreen display that is configured to display a thermostat screen that includes a temperature setting scale such that a desired temperature is set to a requested value selected by the touch interaction of the user with the temperature setting scale; and
- a processor that is communicatively coupled to the touchscreen display, where the processor is configured to: receive an input from the touchscreen display in response to the requested value being selected by the touch interaction of the user; and signal a temperature control unit for the purpose of altering or maintaining a temperature in a predetermined setting.
18. The apparatus according to claim 17, wherein the desired temperature is displayed on the temperature setting scale using a magnified scale or otherwise shown using a size scale other than a default scale.
19. The apparatus according to claim 17, wherein the touchscreen display is further configured to display a magnifier that sequentially magnifies temperature values as the magnifier moves along the temperature setting scale.
20. The apparatus according to claim 17, further comprising a network interface that is communicatively coupled to the processor and is configured to enable the processor to signal the temperature control unit through a wireless connection.