Newsletter – March 2017



United States Electricity Price per KWH
Present and Past


Demand Response
The United States Department of Energy has released the second installment of their Quadrennial Energy Review. The findings identify the need for seventy-six recommendations to better formulate a strategy for a national Smart Grid. An article finding more contention between wholesale and retail energy markets. An article describing the concern held by public utilities about transactive energy.

The oligopoly nature of an electricity provider, either wholesale or retail, is being changed to more of a perfect competition nature by transactive energy. The more change in any unit price, such as when energy is purchased and used, the less control the electricity provider has in their microeconomics relationship with their customer. The energy markets will need to learn how to succeed in this new role, as they have not historically participated in the microeconomics arena.

Smart Grid – Security
An article identifying hotel room HVAC thermostats are being controlled beyond room occupant preferences by hotel management. The Honeywell XL Web II Controller has been identified as having a vulnerability exposing a user password by accessing a specific URL. A report by the United States Department of Energy found the risk of cyber attack on the national electrical grid is high.

The journey to a national Smart Grid is not without arduous steps. Technology weaknesses are being exposed as are strategy flaws. The inability of an occupant to control room temperature is an example of how overreach can disable adoption of any leadership strategy.

New Technologies
An effort to develop a distributed sensor network powered by excess radio waves is close to completion. The sensors measure temperature and humidity levels in a dwelling. Feeding this data to an energy management strategy would substantially increase the effectiveness of an energy usage strategy.

A company providing a product to control the opening and closing of duct systems. Unfortunately, they use a proprietary radio frequency, has no API, and have no network security beyond a password. The concept is wonderful and would do well to not use proprietary and weak components in their product technology strategy.


We have elevated our firmware work to a dedicated section in our newsletter. GNU remotecontrol shared in 2016 we have entered the firmware aspect of the residential network connected HVAC thermostat (smart) thermostat. We are in the process of selecting a kernel distribution. We are down to two kernel candidates. An outcome of our firmware effort is answering the many questions about the existing firmware features in the thermostat devices available today. We address these questions in the following section.


We add a new section to our newsletter for 2017. The purpose of this section is to both identify and discuss available residential network connected HVAC (smart) thermostat options in consideration with internationally accepted technology standards. This section provides insight into each offering as new information becomes available.

The present market status is to force the thermostat owner to use a third-party to access their thermostat device. Device control and privacy are not clearly defined when a third-party is involved. The mandate to use a third-party to access the thermostat device provides no user rights for accessing their thermostat beyond what the third-party allows. Furthermore, no privacy rights are provided to the thermostat owner regarding either access to the thermostat device or the data generated by the device. Overriding third-party access restrictions for the thermostat owner is best accomplished by the thermostat manufacturer developing and releasing an Application Programming Interface (API) for the thermostat owner to access their thermostat device.

We identify five commonly asked questions about a thermostat device. There are three questions about the network connectivity to access a device, one question about API availability, and one question about the type of license provided by the technology owner. This list is not meant to be comprehensive.

The Nest product line has already been well-discussed in previous newsletters.

Wired Access: No
Wi-Fi Access: Yes
ZigBee Access: Yes
API: Yes
License: Proprietary

Sensi is a technology protocol owned by Emerson Electronics. They licensed their technology to various electronics manufacturers. They are also working with Amazon for their Alexa product line to integrate with Sensi.

Wired Access: No
Wi-Fi Access: Yes
ZigBee Access: No
License: Proprietary

The Cor product line is owned by Carrier. Carrier formed a strategic relationship with Ecobee to use their API.

Wired Access: No
Wi-Fi Access: Yes
ZigBee Access: No
API: Yes
License: Proprietary

The Lyric product line is owned by Honeywell. The product is a member of their Smart Energy division. They have partnered with a data analytics firm to find energy usage patterns. They are also working with Amazon for their Echo product line to integrate with Lyric.

Wired Access: No
Wi-Fi Access: Yes
ZigBee Access: No
API: Yes
License: Proprietary

The resounding message from these thermostat device manufacturers is they are integrating their products with complementary technologies. This association causes a new relationship to exist between technology owner licensing and the thermostat device owner. Furthermore, the purchase today of a thermostat device does not mean the thermostat device will not be forced to interface with another technology in the future. This scenario occurred when Google purchased Nest. The absence of complete device control by the device owner has resulted in a confusing position for the home insurance industry to clearly understand and insure against risks. The electronics manufacturing industry presently does not want the owner of a thermostat device to have direct access to their thermostat device. Hopefully, this position will change when it is evident forcing a third-party to be involved is not producing enough satisfaction on the part of those either manufacturing or purchasing these thermostat devices, and when the technology owners are willing to end their insistence to use a proprietary technology license.


GNU remotecontrol accomplishes productive work output through structured work packages. This approach helps to organize our efforts and keep things on track to achieve publishing our work. We have ten different phases for our work packages.

GNU remotecontrol Work Package Phases

Order Label Name
1 REQ Requirements
2 DSG Design
3 DEV Development
4 UNT Unit Testing
5 SYS System Testing
6 UAT User Acceptance Testing
7 DOC Documentation
8 RLS Release
9 TRN Training
10 SPT Support

The GNU remotecontrol team does not perform any work output outside of structured work packages.


GNU remotecontrol Project Help Wanted

New Thermostats
Many people have asked us about adding other types of thermostats to GNU remotecontrol. There are three questions that need to be answered before we can offer GNU remotecontrol support for any IP thermostat. These questions are:

  • How to CONNECT to it (NETWORK).
  • How to READ from it (CODE).
  • How to WRITE to it (CODE).

It is our hope to have dozens and dozens of thermostat types that work with GNU remotecontrol.


We have 0 new bugs and 0 fixed bugs since our last Blog posting. Please review these changes and apply to your GNU remotecontrol installation, as appropriate.

We have 0 new tasks and 0 completed tasks since our last Blog posting. Please review these changes and apply to your GNU remotecontrol installation, as appropriate.


Whatever you do…..don’t get beat up over your Energy Management strategy. GNU remotecontrol is here to help simplify your life, not make it more complicated. Talk to us if you are stuck or cannot figure out the best option for your GNU remotecontrol framework. The chances are the answer you need is something we have already worked through. We would be happy to help you by discussing your situation with you.


Why the Affero GPL?

GNU Affero General Public License LOGO

GNU remotecontrol LOGO

3 Responses to Newsletter – March 2017

  1. Pingback: Newsletter – June 2017 | GNU remotecontrol

  2. Pingback: Newsletter – June 2017 | GNU remotecontrol

  3. Pingback: Newsletter – September 2017 | GNU remotecontrol

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