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As the Internet of Things (IoT) has evolved, the need has become obvious for stronger unity among brands and ecosystems to enable products within smart environments to work together more easily. Working to serve that need is the Zigbee Alliance, which seeks to promote collaboration in the Internet of Things by creating, evolving, and promoting universal open standards that enable all objects to connect and interact. Their effort took off when Amazon, Apple, Google and the Zigbee Alliance announced an industry working group in December 2019 to take the “best of market” technologies from leading smart home standards, portfolios and ecosystems and to develop a “super spec” that will be open, inclusive and a significant industry shift in the smart home market. smart home automation system “Zigbee Alliance has been for a while now working on openness and interoperability, which has led us to the Project Connected Home over IP (CHIP), which is looking to unify the environment, under one technology, one certification program and one logo,” says Chris LaPré, Zigbee Alliance’s IoT Solutions Architect. “It really does fuel IoT possibilities, whether in HVAC or any other sectors.” There is a stronger need for unity, which is why we are developing Project Connected Home over IP" Project CHIP is a royalty-free connectivity standard that unifies brands and ecosystems into a single smart home automation system that operates any other technology based on Internet Protocol (IP). The intent is to simplify product development for device manufacturers, broaden consumer choice, and to ensure easy discoverability, deployment and engagement to fuel connected living. unifies that environment “We have noticed that, as the IoT has evolved, there is a stronger need for unity, which is why we are developing Project Connected Home over IP,” says Jon Harros, Zigbee Alliance’s Director of Certification and Testing Programs. “It fits with the Zigbee Alliance’s goal to unify systems, and to focus on everyone using the same application at the top. It unifies that environment, whether you are integrating your system with Amazon Echo devices or connecting to Google Home.” Participating in development of Project CHIP are 125 companies of various types from around the world working together with more than 1,100 of their experts serving across sub-committees to formulate specifications and fine-tune the project. Although the technology is being developed for the home market, the specifications have been formulated with an eye toward expanding into the commercial market in the future. home system technologies Development of open, interoperable systems provides greater freedom for consumers to choose among the many technology choices on the market, without being tied to a single brand or ecosystem. Zigbee Alliance certifications and memberships span the globe, with roughly a third in Europe, a third in North America and a third in Asia. Involvement in Europe is slightly higher than the other regions. Alliance members represent manufacturing sites all over the world. Project CHIP is a newer initiative of the Zigbee Alliance, which previously developed Zigbee Pro to enable home system technologies to operate using IEEE 802.15.4 wireless signals on the 2.4GHz radio band over a self-healing true mesh network. The original Zigbee protocol is used for many applications around the world, including HVAC. smart temperature devices HVAC developers who have specific use cases should have a look at the work of the alliance Members of the Zigbee Alliance include HVAC companies such as Lennox, Stelpro and Belimo, among others. Carrier is a recent company that has joined the Zigbee Alliance. Smart thermostats, including the popular Ecobee, have used the Zigbee protocol. More than 100 different devices have been certified as thermostats or smart temperature devices. Harros urges other HVAC companies to become more involved with the Alliance. “We want them to come and have a look to see what we are doing and get involved,” he says. “This is where the work is being done as we unify the environment and bring together all the devices and ecosystems to work together.” HVAC developers who have specific use cases should have a look at the work of the alliance, he adds. certification transfer program Among the strengths of the Zigbee Alliance are years of experience certifying products, which includes testing them and confirming that they comply with the promoted specifications and functionality. The specifications are open standards that are developed in cooperation with all the companies that are Zigbee Alliance members. Another route is the certification transfer program, in which a company chooses a certified white-label product, becomes a member of the Alliance, and then rebrands the product while retaining the certification. “It helps them get products on the market quickly while they build their own knowledge base,” says Harros. "All our work is focused on standardizing the behavior and functionality of products and making sure everyone is following the same standard to get interoperability,” says Harros. “Members all contribute to the standards.”
Challenged to propose a creative summer energy savings tip, Kortney Gaura of Le Claire, Iowa, chose to implement "Anything Can Happen Sundays" in her household, and her submission led her to be named Lennox’ newest "Energy Savings Superstar." The Lennox 2018 “Energy Savings Superstar” Contest offered an opportunity for consumers to think about how they devote their time and energy, and invited them to suggest simple but creative solutions for saving money on their energy bills during the steamy summer months. Gaura’s idea of filling a jar with several energy conserving tips to be implemented as a family created an opportunity for her family to spend more quality time together and save energy at the same time. home comfort solutions This is exactly the type of energy- saving advice Lennox Industries, a renowned provider of innovative home comfort solutions, was looking for when it launched the North America contest, which ran from July through August. "This year, we received hundreds of original yet innovative and creative submissions; however, Kortney Gaura suggested a relatable tip that can easily be implemented in any household wanting to save money and energy, while creating an opportunity for more family time," said Brittani Youman, Energy Efficiency Expert at Lennox. indoor air quality products Participants were encouraged to be clear, creative and above all, have fun with their submissions "Since Lennox is a recognized leader in energy-efficient heating, cooling and indoor air quality products, the Gaura family can rest easy knowing they are receiving world-class Lennox innovations that will maximize their energy savings and will keep them cool for many summers to come." For a chance to win, contestants had to describe their energy-saving tip in 1,000 characters or less, and submit a photo demonstrating their tip in action. The more creative and action-oriented the tip and photo, the better. As the grand prize winner, Kortney Gaura received: $10,000 in Lennox cooling, heating and indoor air quality equipment (including installation by J.L. Brady Company in Moline, Ill) A one-year supply of ice cream Four tickets to a water park near her home heating and cooling system As part of Lennox’ summer-long consumer education initiative on energy savings, hundreds of contestants submitted their tips along with photos of their advice in action via the Lennox Energy Savings Superstar Contest Website. Participants were encouraged to be clear, creative and above all, have fun with their submissions. Lennox selected four finalists to compete in a head-to-head public vote on the company’s website to decide the grand prize winner. "It’s exciting to know we are teaching our children at an early age how to be energy conscious and help save both money and the earth, and it’s something every family can easily do," said Gaura. "Winning a new heating and cooling system has already made a difference in how comfortable our home is, and I’m looking forward to even bigger savings with equipment that is much more efficient than what we had before."
While class has been dismissed for the summer, Lennox, a renowned manufacturer of innovative home comfort products, put homeowners to the test one more time before the official start of summer, and found that while most would pass when it comes to energy efficiency know-how, many may want to hit the books to learn more about how to save money on energy bills and stay cool this summer. Lennox Home Energy Report Card Survey The Lennox Home Energy Report Card Survey, commissioned by Lennox International and conducted by GfK Roper, asked about how people use and conserve energy at home and what they’re willing to do to save money on summer bills. The survey found that homeowners have mixed reactions when receiving a high summer energy bill The survey found that homeowners have mixed reactions when receiving a high summer energy bill. In fact, close to one-third (31 percent) of homeowners would turn up or off the thermostat, while another 28 percent said they would search for unused appliances to unplug. Others start turning off lights or research ways to save energy. Getting a Gold Star in energy efficiency practices Homeowners gave themselves above-average marks in energy conservation. When asked to grade their household on how well they conserve energy at home, nearly two-thirds of homeowners rate themselves above average with an ‘A’ or ‘B’ letter grade (62 percent). Fifteen percent of homeowners gave themselves an ‘A,’ (a 6 percent decrease from 2017), 47 percent gave their household a ‘B’ when grading their household energy efficiency, and 31 percent gave themselves a ‘C.’ Although a large majority (92 percent) have taken steps to conserve energy, it’s clear that a number of homeowners see the opportunity for increased efforts. Taking steps to conserve energy in homes More than 90 percent of homeowners are taking steps to conserve energy in their home. Fifty-five percent of homeowners are programming their thermostats to automatically adjust the temperature when they’re away, and 46 percent of homeowners bought new, more efficient air conditioning and heating systems. “Most homeowners recognize that improving the energy efficiency of their household to save energy and reduce electricity bills doesn’t have to take a lot of time and effort,” said Lennox Energy Efficiency Expert, Brittani Youman. Using low-energy consuming appliances Brittani adds, “Fortunately, there are a few simple steps that can make a big impact on controlling costs, conserving energy, and beating the summer heat, starting with doing some basic things, like changing the air filter on your cooling system, using low-energy appliances and conserving by taking advantage of home automation.” Changes in weather aren’t the only reason homeowners are motivated to crank up (or down) the A/C While homeowners show that they are willing to take steps to conserve energy, they are not likely to sacrifice their comfort over savings. When asked how willing homeowners are to turn the thermostat up to save US$ 50 dollars a month on their utility bill, 37 percent would be willing to raise their thermostat three to six degrees, while 26 percent would not go any higher than one or two degrees. Changes in weather aren’t the only reason homeowners are motivated to crank up (or down) the A/C. The survey found that 46 percent of homeowners will turn on their air conditioning system for the first time of the year in May or June, while 9 percent of homeowners run their A/C system year-round. Conserving energy to lower power bills When asked to name the family member who complains most about hot or cold temperatures, the female head of household was identified 52 percent of the time, while 26 percent chose the male head of household. While many people proactively take positive actions toward lowering energy bills, some do earn a failing grade for doing more harm than good. Twenty-three percent of homeowners said they have turned off their cooling system completely during hot days or heating systems on extremely cold days to conserve energy. Regulating thermostat temperature settings “While turning off your air conditioning system completely seems like an effective way to conserve energy during the summer, it is actually forcing the system to work overtime to get back to a comfortable temperature,” said Youman. She further adds, “Doing so uses more energy and results in higher bills. Instead of turning off your system, we recommend lowering or raising the temperature of the thermostat or better yet, install a smart thermostat to do it for you.” Lennox Energy Savings Superstar Contest The grand prize winner will receive up to US$ 10,000 in energy efficient Lennox heating and air conditioning products Luckily, homeowners have an opportunity to improve their grade by entering the Lennox Energy Savings Superstar Contest. Between July 1 and August 31, 2018, Lennox invites homeowners to go to their official website to submit a unique and innovative home energy savings tip, along with a fun photo depicting their suggested tip. The grand prize winner will receive up to US$ 10,000 in energy efficient Lennox heating and air conditioning products, along with other ‘cool’ prizes to help them beat the heat this summer. ENERGY STAR Manufacturing Partner of the Year The results of the Lennox Home Energy Report Card survey are based on a telephone survey that was conducted by GfK Roper on behalf of Lennox Industries among 734 homeowners (ages 18 and over) within the U.S. during April 2018. Lennox has been honored four times by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Energy as an ENERGY STAR Manufacturing Partner of the Year for its outstanding contribution to developing and promoting energy-efficient products.