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Usability Testing for Intelligent HVAC Controls

The EEI Market Transformation Research Team worked with the UC Davis Western Cooling Efficiency Center, Electric Power Research Institute, and UC Berkeley on a project for the California Energy Commission that involved designing, developing, and testing a smart thermostat geared toward affordable housing communities. The Market Transformation Research Team led the user research for the project, which included usability testing with two versions of the thermostat hardware prototype and one version of the accompanying smartphone application. The Team used eye-tracking equipment to help analyze user interactions with the app. Features of the thermostat that were popular among prospective users included a simple on/off button (which is actually quite uncommon in thermostats) and remote control via the app. The project demonstrated potential for an advanced thermostat with low hardware costs and high user acceptance.

Project Partners: Electric Power Research Institute (Prime), UC Berkeley, Impekable (design firm), Consumer Energy Interfaces Lab 

Sponsor: California Energy Commission, grant # EPC-15-020