In the summer months, when air conditioners are going full tilt, electricity bills can mount. We spend about $11 billion a year in the U.S to cool our homes. ACs alone account for about 5% of all power consumed, according to the Department of Energy.
The Tado Smart AC Control aims to bring that number down by adding a little intelligence to AC systems. The wall-mounted sensor station will switch your unit on and off according to need. If you’re miles away at work, it might allow temperatures to rise. But, when you’re at home, or nearby, it will start cooling again. In essence, it will only run the thing when you really need it.
“It’s a humble and works in the background like a digital assistant,” says Tado’s Leopold von Bismarck. “It blends in with the wall and adds a brain to all the ACs out there.”
The idea is similar to other smart thermostats, like the Nest, which adjust the temperature by “learning” the behavior and preferences of those occupying a house. The Tado operates a little more simply. The app “geofences” the AC unit, so it will only come on if people are within a certain radius. “It measures the distance from home and, once you start approaching the apartment, it starts pre-cooling, so it’s nice and comfortable,” Von Bismarck says. You can also set schedules–for example, so it warms up a little while you’re sleeping–and track humidity levels. Tado claims people can save up to 40% of their AC-related energy costs, if used to the maximum extent.
Future versions will let turn ACs on and off as you move between rooms. “The comfort [will] follow you around,” Von Bismarck says.
The Tado AC control, developed by a Germany company, works with any AC that has an infrared remote. It costs $99.