EcoPi – Monitoring boiler energy consumption using Windows Phone and Raspberry Pi

Final year university student Lewis Greyson at the Lincoln School of Computer Science (LSoCS) recently showcased his dissertation project along with his fellow students at a show and tell event held within the school. The event was designed for final year students to present their development work to all staff within the school with lots of high-quality work present ranging from IR tracking to mobile tourism applications. Lewis decided he wanted to use Windows Phone (WP) technology and a Raspberry Pi to power his project’s sustainability concept called ‘EcoPi’. Lewis describes his project:

“This project discusses research on the issues surrounding domestic energy consumption and climate change. The purpose of the research is to aid the production of a ubiquitous system informed from energy consumption literature. A user study will be conducted to monitor a household for a week using the developed system. It is suggested from the literature that the results of this study will show that the participants are not necessarily aware of how their heating system behaves. It is hoped the results will encourage the participants to make changes to their heating system, thus proving behavioural change. The overarching goal is show that mobile devices have a positive impact on the participant and therefore the devices can be used for such research”

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The development side of the project includes a WP application that monitors user locations using either GPS or 3G with location data saved at intervals. A Raspberry Pi with a temperature sensor is housed in the user’s home with the temperature sensor located on the boiler. The Pi polls the temp sensor and stores the data to a database, the user can view timeline graphs on the phone of the boiler temperature and whether or not they were at home when the boiler switched on. This creates greater awareness of wasteful energy consumption from the boiler, allowing the user to act upon it.

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Lewis was inspired to build a Windows Phone app following his experience on the Social Applications Development module at Lincoln. The module teaches students the underpinning design theory and development skills on how to combine the WP and Azure platforms to create apps with a social computing theme.