When speaking of energy efficiency of heating a space, the focus is often placed on the efficiency on one component or another. If we look more deeply, we realize that the efficiency of the least efficient part of the system dictates the energy of the system. This is the limiting factor.
For example, if a solar panel came on the market tomorrow that could turn 60% of the sunlight falling on it into useable electricity, it would be heralded as a significant breakthrough, and it certainly would be. It would mean that the same square footage of rooftop could produce over three times what is currently realistic from contemporary panels. However, the sun does not shine at night. So, the efficiency and capacity of power storage (or return to the grid) is likely more important to the overall efficiency of the system than that of the panels.
And it’s one thing to be able to provide more power throughout the day and night, and yet another to power inefficient appliances and devices. Therefore, how efficiently the power is used yet another candidate as the limiting factor.
Other parts of the system need to be considered as well: the quality of the insulation and windows, the volume of space above head height, the overall square footage per occupant, the orientation of the building to the sun, the proximity of heat generation to the space being heated, the type of ventilation, etc. There are so many things that could be the limiting in the efficiency of the system that constructing a truly accurate model of any given approach is exceedingly difficult. Nevertheless, most of these values can be quantified and assessed within the overall context.
This brings us to the one factor that does not get enough examination and is, indeed, difficult to quantify without specific, ongoing data for an individual case: the patterns of control and use of the system by the occupants. Certainly, in the case of heating a home, the temperature we set our thermostats to has a major effect on how much power we use, regardless of the efficiency of the rest of the system. Heating rooms not currently in use is analogous to leaving the lights on in an unused space. Heating the house to comfortable temperatures when entirely unoccupied can be a large factor.
There is an evolving technology that help mitigate some of the underlying causes of inefficiency in this area of how well the heating system uses electricity: the smart thermostat. And, especially for room by room heating systems, such as infrared radiant, this allows for fine-tuned control of getting heat where and when you need it, and not where you don’t. If you are chilly in the living room, you don’t have to turn up the temp only in that room without even getting up. Just ask your smart speaker or use your smartphone app.
Or, maybe you’re on vacation and then wonder if you’re still running your bathroom heater, or on your way back from work and want the bathroom warm and ready for a well-deserved soak in the tub. With the smart thermostat, this is no longer an issue. You can control your heaters from as far away as your smartphone can reach.
This option has been available for a while now. But the better-known versions, such as NEST and EcoBee, were developed with more centralized HVAC systems in mind. Each thermostat is expensive. And, because they are low voltage, low-wattage devices, they nee transformers to step down the power to run them, and relays (automatic switches) that they control, which, in turn, do the actual work of turning the heat on and off.
Now, smart thermostats like the MYSA are line-volt. This simply means that they are self-contained and are wired as part of the circuit, just like a standard thermostat or light switch, which brings the installation cost down considerably. And they are far less expensive than the better-known smart thermostats, without the need for other accessories.
Once again, convenience and efficiency have been brought together, offering the opportunity to save time, money, energy, and effort with one simple system.