How much HVAC energy could be saved from the occupant-centric smart home thermostat: A nationwide simulation study

Zhihong Pang, Yan Chen, Jian Zhang, Zheng O'Neill, Hwakong Cheng, Bing Dong

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations


Thermostat management plays a significant role in household energy conservation. This study aims to conduct a systematic and comprehensive analysis to quantify the energy savings potential of the occupant-centric smart thermostat based on a large-scale nationwide simulation infrastructure. The single-family Residential Prototype Building Model was used to represent a typical single-family detached house in the U.S. A generalized random occupancy presence schedule was created based on an occupancy probability schedule and k-means clustering algorithm. A total of 16,000 simulations, which were composed of four building foundation types, four heating source types, 40 American cities, five building energy code versions, and five thermostat control strategies, were conducted to evaluate the performances of the smart home thermostat in terms of saving building energy usage and maintaining occupant thermal comfort. The nationwide simulation results suggested that the temperature setback control during the unoccupied period could achieve some energy savings in the U.S. households. However, only very few of the 40 cities could see an annual Heating, Ventilation, and Air-conditioning energy savings ratio of over 30%. Besides, the implementation of the occupied standby temperature reset could greatly increase the peak load of the HVAC system and contribute to the grid load imbalance issue. It's also worth noting that the smart recovery feature is proved to be able to bring additional benefits for a smart home thermostat. It could decrease the temperature setpoint not met time by about 30 min, and relieve the thermal discomfort due to the temperature setback control.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number116251
JournalApplied Energy
StatePublished - Feb 1 2021


  • Large-scale simulation
  • Occupancy presence sensor
  • Occupant-centric smart thermostat
  • Residential buildings

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Building and Construction
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • General Energy
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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