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Democratic Thermostat

United we Freeze.
  (+16, -2)(+16, -2)
(+16, -2)
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Public building thermostat settings are often a source of contention. Clearly, in such a situation, a democratic procedure is called for. Using an input system defined by the type of public building, (Theatres would have a dial in the seat arm, offices could install a transponder in each cubicle, schools could attach a machine to each desk) every affected individual enters a preferred temperature. The system then simply averages all the votes to get the thermostat setting.

This system has a side-benefit in that by so directly participating in such a system the arguments about the effectiveness of votes could be settled - you could easily tell if your vote 'counted' or not, and whether you cared. Hopefully some improvements to the current system could result.

"Has your boss changed to Thermocracy yet?"

Darkelfan, Nov 13 2005

(?) Tactical Temperature Voting in the workplace http://217.34.151.88
user and password are user2/user2 [gnomethang, Nov 14 2005, last modified Jan 08 2007]

[link]






       You'd need some form of analysis that discourages tactical voting (selecting extremes to shift the mean) - maybe by restricting the range, or by using the median value - but otherwise I really like this idea. [+]
Adze, Nov 13 2005
  

       Ok...now, how is the Republican thermostat going to work? The guy with the most money gets to choose the temperature?
normzone, Nov 13 2005
  

       Well currently it's picked by the guy with the biggest dick so I guess even that would be an improvement.
Darkelfan, Nov 13 2005
  

       You've seen their dicks?!
DrCurry, Nov 13 2005
  

       They use them to turn the dial.   

       Sorry.
Texticle, Nov 13 2005
  

       Most thermostats aren't used correctly, anyway. They are often either at the lowest possible setting, or the highest. With a larger group, the voting could be:   

       Too hot
Too cold
Just right.
Ling, Nov 14 2005
  

       Also, who can tell me their ideal temp? Eh? Eh? Anyone? Also, I'm pretty sure large groups cancel the strategic voting, as it basically does degenerate into "too hot" "too cold" settings, as everyone goes for their favorite maximum. (except the comfy people)
Darkelfan, Nov 14 2005
  

       //Also, who can tell me their ideal temp? Eh? Eh? Anyone? //   

       Easy: 21ºC (humidity is another factor; but we've only been talking temp so far).
Adze, Nov 14 2005
  

       and let's not forget wind chill factors.   

       Just close the door on the management meeting to deal with that.
Adze, Nov 14 2005
  

       Problem...suppose you are in a theater and you like it a little chilly- if you vote the temp you want, it has no effect. Instead, you do some calculations with the avg. temp and # of people in the theater, then vote for -10000degC, which the computer averages to lower the temperature 3degC like you wanted. (I know absolute zero is-273degC, but I assume the comp doesnt)
sninctown, Nov 14 2005
  

       I turned the fan heater on this morning only to have my PC die and all the lights go out as the power fused.   

       There were far fewer arguments about the temperature as we fumbled around the library in the dark trying to find a jannie.
salachair, Nov 14 2005
  

       I'd settle for a heating system. Where I usually work (HQ of one of the UK's biggest companies) there has been no heating for a year - some sort of "ongoing maintainance" originally scheduled to last for four weeks. The entire building is heated by PC's and humans and lights and is cooled by air-con, which is fine in the summer but now we are being forecast the coldest winter for a hundred years and I'm getting worried.
wagster, Nov 14 2005
  

       //Too hot Too cold Just right. Ling, Nov 13 2005 //
An Idea whose time is coming methinks.
I work in the HVAC/BMS market and we have been discussing this very topic recently. I don't know if anyone has done this yet but in the US I understand that a lot of the Facilities Management (FM) reports deal with %ge complaints per floor etc.
I'm going to have a crack at a simple algorithm and will post the results here. +
**EDIT**
Right kids!, try the link to your left. Its a bit buggy as I threw it together in about an hour.
The rules are:
1) Log in as either user1 (password: user1) or user2 (password: user2).
2) Vote cold, hot or neutral by right clicking on the Boxes. The setpoint should shift by 0.1 K per vote.
Note that at the moment it is just looking at raw votes - I would imagine a slightly more weighted response but couldn't be bothered writing a complicated program.
3) If any group votes more than 10 times in 4 minutes then their voting rights are suspended MwaHaHA!. (reset every 4 mins for ease at the moment).
4) Every 30 mins or so the counts are reset - I would imagine resetting overnight/out of Occupancy.
5) If the maximum of either 'Too Hot' or 'Too Cold' is less than the Total 'Just Right votes then setpoint change is suspended. Again this is very rough and ready but could be made more fair/intuitive with some thought. The voting continues and when one or other is greater than the IK votes then Setpoint increments are added/subtracted (again buggy!)
  

       Hope that all makes sense - I will check later to fix the bugs and tart it up (if I can be arsed!)
Note that every user could have this as an icon on their desktop. The only thing that you need is a a web browser and a JVM in order to view the applet.
gnomethang, Nov 14 2005
  

       I have downloaded this to a server in the UK - it might only be available for a couple of days as I may need to put some work for clients to view on the machine and can only run one station at a time.
If we can get the second server up in Dublin then it might be more permanent.
gnomethang, Nov 14 2005
  

       Such a control system would not reach a steady state. You'd end up with temperature swings caused by time-delays in the human data entry and in the changes as people enter/leave.   

       And, do you want to be voting all day to keep it wher you want it? Isn't that what thermostats are for? To let us focus on other things?   

       I'd much prefer a "constant" temperature. I can dress appropriately and then not have it distract me.
sophocles, Nov 14 2005
  

       All that agreed, [sophocles], but the main problem with occupied buildings is the people who occupy them: they all have different preferences for temperature. Personally, I dress appropriately for the room (e.g. bring a jumper just in case!) but there are a number of people who don't do that and will complain.
Secondly, this idea will allow for exceptional days to be catered for. For example, when it is 28 DegC outside a room at 21 degC in full cooling with discharge temperatures of 15 DegC will seem rather chilly. Likewise, with OAT at 3 DegC with a setpoint of 21 DegC in full Heating with discharge temperatures of 25 DegC can be stuffy.
There are a number of installation variants that can mitigate these effects (e.g Variable Air Volume (VAV) or compensated supply temperature) but if you have terminal unit controls e.g. Fan Coil Units that have their own Htg and Clg coils then the main problem is cold draughts/hot stuffiness. If, by concensus, the users could 'agree' on a basic raise or decrease in temperature setpoint then this would be a good thing in my opinion.
The system could also identify both Hotspots and Troublemakers in a building which can only help the FM.
The example that I created would also allow the FM/engineer to disable individual users/usergroup controls - I am in favour of this sometimes!
I would also allow voting only twice per day: Once after the morning warm up period and once at about 2 p.m. in the cool down period. This could be adjusted according to the building load profile but only by an admin user who is suitably trained.
Lastly, a large percentage of cmplaints actually go awa when you empower the user to control their own environment. Even a simple button that, when clicked, says "your temperature has been increased" will work in a number of instances - I know of people who have installed thermostats in a room with no wires attached and the user was happy because they could here a 'click' when they moved the 'stat. "*I* am in control here!".
gnomethang, Nov 14 2005
  

       The obvious problem with this is that you still have to pick the thermostat that controls the HVAC system (i.e. where is it located). Most often, the location of the thermostat is the cause of much problem. Its either in a west facing office in which case, the rest of the office freezes, or in a north facing one (in which case they boil).   

       On a side note, they now have personal environmental modules that go with underfloor air systems that allow each person to control their space independantly.   

       But this is a nice idea. Add in the median value suggestion from Adze.
energy guy, Nov 15 2005
  

       //Also, who can tell me their ideal temp?//   

       I can say with absolute conviction that my ideal temp is the green 72 degree bubble on my Galileo thermometer, dammit!   

       This is something I feel strongly about and am bossy enough to enforce in the workplace. "What the? Hey, you over there, yeah you! Do you see green? I don't. Where's green? Turn up the stinking thermostat to green or I'm outta here!" [+]
Zuzu, Nov 15 2005
  

       [gnomethang], I suspect that a special vote with the option 'just right' will hardly ever be selected, because who would bother?
However, it should be default 'just right' unless modified (reset overnight?). And of course, after half an hour, the user is likely to modify it back when the system has adjusted temperature accordingly.
  

       Good luck with the trial; just make sure the HB members don't hack in and have fun with the real system.
Ling, Nov 15 2005
  

       Nah, its just a box on a bench! - I wouldn't let them near a live one!.
gnomethang, Nov 15 2005
  

       Our a/c runs continually, so to 'raise the temperature' at work means, essentially, 'turn on a few in-duct heaters to warm the cold air by degrees'. That costs; so, I feel any group 'choice' should be governed by what energy expense accrues to the choice.
reensure, Nov 15 2005
  

       Sure, this just registers the intent. People like me have to decide how best to implement the result (where possible).
It all depends on the design philosophy of the building.
gnomethang, Nov 15 2005
  

       Keep us posted on how it goes [gnomey].
wagster, Nov 15 2005
  

       One wonders if a Republican Thermostat would poll what everyone wanted, then set to whatever temperature suits Dick Cheney?
DrCurry, Nov 15 2005
  

       And then announce that it was Bush's decision.
wagster, Nov 15 2005
  

       And the blame for the uncomfortable temperature will be placed on some unrelated forign dictator.
Worldgineer, Nov 15 2005
  

       well done [gnomethang] and [Darkelfan] - we've been having exactly this problem at work. It's summer in the southern hemisphere, and we've got the air-con on frosty, hence people wear their jackets in the office, and little blankets. Apart from the person who bought their own portable heater...   

       P.S welcome [Darkelfan].
neilp, Nov 15 2005
  

       Tell me about it. I'm forced to wear winter clothes in the office, while outside it is lovely and warm.   

       The bossy self-appointed queen of the office picks the temperature, and she is always too hot.
Texticle, Nov 15 2005
  

       It should be noted that proper HVAC design, coupled with owners that aren't too cheap, is the only real solution to most of these problems. However, this sounds like a good solution for when you have a large number of people and one thermostat.   

       I like your interface, [gnome].
Worldgineer, Nov 15 2005
  

       Thanks, [neilp].   

       I love this place already. :P
Darkelfan, Nov 16 2005
  
      
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