Ian Ellis, Marketing Manager at Siemens Building Products, looks at what we could be measuring besides temperature to improve the control of our indoor environments.

Currently more people are working from home, and there is much talk about how we can make it safe for them to return to their workplaces. These revolve around improving ventilation and air quality and there are many solutions available in the non-residential sector on how to achieve this.

But are the same factors considered for our residential workplaces? The priority of any residential controller is to maintain a comfortable ambient temperature and achieve this in the most energy efficient way but, as well as the temperature, should we look at sensing other parameters in our homes?

As we are spending more time at home, it’s fair to assume our heating is on more especially in the colder winter months. So, ensuring the best level of control becomes more important.

In our opinion, this takes the form of a device that has a self-learning algorithm to deliver high end control performance. Once it’s installed and the set-up done, it learns the characteristics of a room in less than one day; Optimum Start Control defines the ideal moment to start heating to have a perfect room climate. The results are convincing – energy and cost savings and an improved climate comfort.

However, temperature is not the only value we should consider measuring. Maintaining a good air quality level has several benefits. An example could be to display the air quality level on a controller using an easy to understand colour coded indication of whether air quality is good (green), okay (yellow), or poor (red). If the symbol is red or yellow, users know the air quality can be improved by, for example, opening a window. 

It has been found that even for simple tasks, such as listening and absorbing information, people’s performance increases by a factor of 1.5 when air quality was improved. For tasks requiring higher levels of involvements, such as taking initiative, the measured performance increased by a sheer factor of 10. This level of performance is just as important when working from home as when in the workplace.

Another important value to measure is relative humidity. Studies show that if this value is kept between 40-60%, the spread of cold and flu viruses can be reduced by up to 70%. Making the user aware of the current value can keep them informed and decide if action is needed to maintain the optimum level.

Having this additional information as well as the traditional temperature value can make the occupants make decisions of how good or bad their new working environment is. So, when making your choice for controls at home, don’t let temperature be the only factor; consider what factors will give you the best working and living environment and think smart.