Newsletter – November 2013

THIS MONTH…..
-TRENDS
-EYE CATCHING
-DISCUSSIONS
-EXISTING CODE
-SECURITY
-LASTLY

-TRENDS
The stuff going on in the big picture now…..

US Bureau of Labor and Statistics, current and past average…..

Electricity Price per KWH

Year August September Trend % Change
2013 $0.137 $0.137 Same 0.00%
Year September Trend % Change % Since
2003 $0.098 Same 0.00% 0.00%
2004 $0.099 Increase 1.02% 1.02%
2005 $0.106 Increase 7.07% 8.16%
2006 $0.118 Increase 11.32% 20.41%
2007 $0.121 Increase 2.54% 23.47%
2008 $0.130 Increase 7.44% 32.65%
2009 $0.130 Same 0.00% 32.65%
2010 $0.132 Increase 1.54% 34.69%
2011 $0.135 Increase 2.27% 37.76%
2012 $0.133 Decrease -1.48% 35.71%
2013 $0.137 Increase 3.01% 39.80%

-EYE CATCHING
The stuff that has caught our eye…..

  • A report that the home energy management market is set to explode.
  • An article describing who will compete in the energy industry of the future.
  • An article illustrating the best way to prevent outages during a heat wave is to have a grid that can handle load reduction to the energy subscriber through demand response.
  • An article with viable recommendations of how to get consumers to adopt demand response.
  • An article explaining how the global economy sinks under its debts as the real cost of energy rises.
  • A report demonstrating that demand response is lacking customer participation.
  • A report that the smart thermostat market will grow tenfold by 2020.
  • A report finding energy efficient companies are growing in commercial influence.
  • An editorial on Hurricane Sandy in hindsight, considering how the grid could be protected from such extreme damage in the future.

-DISCUSSIONS
The stuff we are talking about now…..

OUR FIRST WEBINAR
GNU remotecontrol presented at the Smart Grid Educational Series on 31 October 2013. The series are hosted by Erfan Ibrahim, PhD. Dr. Ibrahim is the CEO of The Bit Bazaar, also serving as:
-Strategic Innovation Director of GridSTAR.
-Principal Consultant of the Energy Sector Practice for Scitor.

Over 70 people registered and over 40 people attended the event. The webinar is 1 hour 28 minutes in duration.

OTHER TYPES OF 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. Let us know if you designed or manufactured a device and you would like to test it with GNU remotecontrol.

-EXISTING CODE
The stuff you may want to consider…..

BUGS
We have 1 new bugs and 0 fixed bugs since our last Blog posting. Please review these changes and apply to your GNU remotecontrol installation, as appropriate.

TASKS
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.

-SECURITY
The stuff you REALLY want to consider…..

Z-WAVE
A presentation from the Black Hat Briefings – 2013 USA Conference describing hacking of Z-Wave Home Automation Systems.

TERRORISM: HOW VULNERABLE IS THE GRID?
An article describing an incident that brought the biggest damage to the energy industry yet and the object lesson that shutting down the grid is pretty easy.

REMEMBER
GNU remotecontrol relies on OS file access restrictions, Apache authentication, MySQL authentication, and SSL encryption to secure your data. Talk to us you want to find out how you can further strengthen the security of your system, or you have suggestions for improving the security of our current system architecture.

-LASTLY
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.

…..UNTIL NEXT MONTH!

Newsletter – October 2013

THIS MONTH…..
-TRENDS
-EYE CATCHING
-DISCUSSIONS
-EXISTING CODE
-SECURITY
-LASTLY

-TRENDS
The stuff going on in the big picture now…..

US Bureau of Labor and Statistics, current and past average…..

Electricity Price per KWH

Year July August Trend % Change
2013 $0.137 $0.137 Same 0.00%
Year August Trend % Change % Since
2003 $0.098 Same 0.00% 0.00%
2004 $0.100 Increase 2.04% 2.04%
2005 $0.105 Increase 5.00% 7.14%
2006 $0.118 Increase 12.38% 20.41%
2007 $0.121 Increase 2.54% 23.47%
2008 $0.132 Increase 9.09% 34.69%
2009 $0.130 Decrease -1.52% 32.65%
2010 $0.133 Increase 2.31% 35.71%
2011 $0.135 Increase 1.50% 37.76%
2012 $0.133 Decrease -1.48% 35.71%
2013 $0.137 Increase 3.01% 39.80%

-EYE CATCHING
The stuff that has caught our eye…..

  • An article from the Edison Electric Institute, regarding the financial implications and recommended strategic responses to the changing retail electric business.
  • An article from the BBC, about increasing energy bills for the elderly.
  • An article from the Wall Street Journal, illustrating the free market is the best generator of energy efficiency.
  • An article from the Wall Street Journal, explaining why energy efficiency is about to take major leap forward.
  • An article from the Wall Street Journal, describing how energy dashboards are entering the office cubicle.
  • An article from the Wall Street Journal, informing what and how utilities try to learn from smart meters.

-DISCUSSIONS
The stuff we are talking about now…..

RELEASE NEW VERSION
We released our first upgrade at the end of September. We are very happy with the SORTING and GROUPING functionality that is now added to the Thermostat Profile table. This new functionality makes it easier and faster to manage large numbers of thermostats. Talk to us if you have any further questions on this version release.

OTHER TYPES OF 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. Let us know if you designed or manufactured a device and you would like to test it with GNU remotecontrol.

-EXISTING CODE
The stuff you may want to consider…..

BUGS
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.

TASKS
We have 0 new tasks and 7 completed tasks since our last Blog posting. Please review these changes and apply to your GNU remotecontrol installation, as appropriate.

-SECURITY
The stuff you REALLY want to consider…..

COMPROMISING INDUSTRIAL FACILITIES FROM FAR AWAY
A presentation from the Black Hat Briefings – 2013 USA Conference describing how to compromise industrial facilities from 40 miles away.

GNU remotecontrol relies on OS file access restrictions, Apache authentication, MySQL authentication, and SSL encryption to secure your data. Talk to us you want to find out how you can further strengthen the security of your system, or you have suggestions for improving the security of our current system architecture.

SMART GRID SPEAR PHISHING
An article illustrating higher security risks for companies with Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) systems, due to weaknesses in anti-phishing programs.

-LASTLY
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.

…..UNTIL NEXT MONTH!

Newsletter – March 2013

THIS MONTH…..
-DISCUSSIONS
-EXISTING CODE
-NEW CODE
-LASTLY

-DISCUSSIONS
The stuff we are talking about now…..

DEMAND RESPONSE
Many discussions about Demand Response have been taking place recently. Check the February 2013 Blog paragraph on this topic, for more detail. Here is a pretty good video explaining more about Demand Response. We found the National Grid encourages energy efficiency with a new Smart Grid Pilot. We are thinking of starting development in this direction, by setting up an Open ADR server and polish GNU remotecontrol to be able to receive and respond to Demand Response messages. This will more accurately inform your electricity and/or fuel provider of your future energy demand expectation. We are thinking of basing this on historical/seasonal consumption data trends, but with the ability to override manually with a different profile. The benefit is to help you get better pricing, if you reduce your consumption of electricity and/or fuel from your provider, at times of peak energy demand. It will also help you with your Operation and Maintenance efforts, by helping to monitor your energy consumption relevant to your usage of your assets.

POWERLINE COMMUNICATION
This is still in the works. Check the February 2013 Blog paragraph on this topic, for more detail. Good discussions occurring, but things are not clear yet on the type and amount of demand for this technology from the Power Distribution industry and what GNU remotecontrol needs to do about providing capability for using the technology.

-EXISTING CODE
The stuff you may want to consider…..

SECURITY
Strong security protocols are priceless, period. Security considerations remain at the forefront of managing an HVAC system, given the Stuxnet headlines in the news not so long ago. Is it time to hire HVAC Security? Most likely, if you are looking at GNU remotecontrol or remotely accessed thermostats, it is that time. Siemens came out rather quickly with a posting for Building a Cyber Secure Plant, following the Stuxnet outbreak. There is a growing urgency to protect the Electrical Grid, before a large scale attack occurs. The reality is that threat has been here for decades. Talk to us if you would like further information on addressing HVAC security concerns.

-NEW CODE
The stuff we are working on now…..

THERMOSTAT API EMULATOR
We are scaling up GNU remotecontrol to furnish the capability for a POWER DISTRIBUTION PROVIDER to service their customers. We are building an IP enabled thermostat emulator, to facilitate understanding of how this can be achieved from the END-USER perspective and test the robustness and resilience of our software. This technology capability means several HUNDRED-THOUSAND messages going to several HUNDRED-THOUSAND IP enabled thermostats, all at once. It also means you DO NOT have to purchase, install, or modify any IP enabled thermostats to start using or testing GNU remotecontrol. Talk to us if you are interested in running in GNU remotecontrol in large deployments.

ASSET MANAGEMENT SYSTEM
This is still in the works. Check the February 2013 Blog paragraph on this topic, for more detail. Talk to us if you want us to pursue developing this code sooner than later. We will most likely build it at some point in the future. It is a matter of how important it is to the folks using GNU remotecontrol right now.

-LASTLY
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.

…..UNTIL NEXT MONTH!

Newsletter – February 2013

THIS MONTH…..
-DISCUSSIONS
-EXISTING CODE
-NEW CODE
-LASTLY

-DISCUSSIONS
The stuff we are talking about now…..

DEMAND RESPONSE
People have asked us about Demand Response. This technology involves receiving XML messages to change device settings. These messages come from your electricity and/or fuel provider, when their electricity and/or fuel grid is under stress and cannot cope with supplying the total demand to their customers. Say, for example, the Super Bowl just went dark and they need to find some electricity to light the game back up. Demand Response enabled technology then receives a computer generated message from your provider, asking you, as their customer, to either reduce or stop consumption of electricity and/or fuel for a while. The provider has a contractual agreement to compensate their subscribers when they do what the provider is asking for; easing their normal consumption level for a while. For us, this involves GNU remotecontrol being able to receive Demand Response messages and being able to send message back to them, telling your electricity and/or fuel provider what your future demand expectation is for your system. The benefit is to help you get better pricing if you reduce your consumption of electricity and/or fuel from your provider for that given time. More to come on this next month.

POWERLINE COMMUNICATION
People have asked us about Powerline Communication. This technology eliminates the need to run communication cabling to devices, such as thermostats, wireless access points, video cameras, and a host of other devices. A single set of electrical cabling handles both power and communication with the device. For us, this involves GNU remotecontrol moving communications across the cabling that caries the electricity to the device. The benefit for you is to integrate your GNU remotecontrol with a lot of existing cabling and technology options. More to come on this next month.

-EXISTING CODE
The stuff you may want to consider…..

ADDING DEVICES
GNU remotecontrol is designed to work with any IP enabled thermostat device. Say tomorrow you realize you want to add a new type of thermostat device to your GNU remotecontrol. No problem. All you have to know about that thermostat device is how to CONNECT to it, how to READ from it, and how to WRITE to it, and that is it. It is wise to select a thermostat device that has the ability to download and upload the device configuration, but that is your choice. Talk to us if you want to collaborate on getting that new type of thermostat device running in GNU remotecontrol.

AUTOMATION
GNU remotecontrol does not need to use the GUI to manage your IP enabled thermostat devices. Simply include your list of change instructions in the send_request.php file, and that is that. These change instructions are the names of the thermostat devices and what settings you want to change on those thermostat devices. It is the same list of change information that gets fed from index.php to send_request.php in the default installation of GNU remotecontrol. You sending your list of change instructions to send_request.php overrides index.php to feed your change instructions to your thermostat devices. You can achieve A LOT of different types of automation with GNU remotecontrol.

REMEMBER
GNU remotecontrol is a MANAGEMENT TOOL for your HVAC systems, after you decide what needs to be done to control your HVAC assets. What needs to be done is called the LOGIC SEQUENCE. This logic sequence functions either at will, by you making one-at-a-time changes, or by you using another well-developed program to make those automated decisions for you. We EXECUTE what people want done with their HVAC systems. There are many, and I mean….MANY…..technology options to accomplish this logic sequence. Talk to us if you want some examples.

-NEW CODE
The stuff we are working on now…..

ASSET MANAGEMENT SYSTEM
People have asked us about using GNU remotecontrol to run their Multi-Vendor HVAC systems. AWESOME! Unlike Single-Vendor HVAC systems, often referred to as a KIT, Multi-Vendor systems are built from individual components that you pick when designing your own bespoke systems. A Heat Pump is a very common example of a Single-Vendor HVAC system.

Asset Management is the art and science of making the best decisions and optimizing the practice of managing assets to achieve the greatest return. The objective is to minimize the life-cycle cost of your assets. A database to keep up with your HVAC assets is priceless for helping you go home at a regular time each day, versus you chasing down the speed of a fan, the last time you calibrated your sensors, and many other simple but time consuming activities. Imagine how much a database could help you accomplish in managing all of the different fans, cooling sources, and heating sources that cool and heat your large facility. One must have a record of those fans, cooling, and heating components in order to collectively switch them on/off. A database sure is a great way to keep up with that long list of assets. This database is the technological enabler for your Asset Management.

This Asset Management database is a great repository for information on your asset inspection, calibration, maintenance, and repair records. It also helps you know how long a component has been around, helping you prepare for replacing it. Check out the PAS 55 Standard and Computerized Maintenance Management Systems (CMMS) from the Whole Building Design Guide, for more information. Also, check out Specifying Interoperability and BACnet and the Facility Manager, for some reference information of how a Multi-Vendor HVAC system can work for you.

We have a good list of requirements and a mock-up of the code to set up this Asset Management system. It offers a web based interface for you, really simple to use. You enter or import the information you need in your database, then simply read and review the information in the Asset Management database. What we are not sure of is how badly people want this Asset Management system right now. Talk to us if you want us to pursue developing this code sooner than later. We will most likely build it at some point in the future. It is a matter of how important it is to the folks using GNU remotecontrol right now.

-LASTLY
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 to go with 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.

…..UNTIL NEXT MONTH!

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