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2006 - Kamin Whitehouse

Kamin Whitehouse is developing technology to analyze household behavioral patterns and identify ways residents can save on energy costs.  His team has deployed systems in over 20 homes, and early results indicate that the solution can produce a 28% reduction in heating and cooling costs for just a $25 investment.

Kamin, an Assistant Professor in Computer Science at the University of Virginia, leads a research group creating “smart building” technology to improve energy efficiency in office buildings and homes.  See their technology in action in this smarthome demo video.  He leverages existing smart meter data, provided by utility companies, and develops algorithms to find patterns in behavior that can be used to produce energy usage.  

For example, a woman wakes up every morning at 6 a.m., eats breakfast, wanders through the house looking for her keys, and walks out the front door.  Most of the time, following this pattern means that the woman will not return home until 6 p.m.  Next door, a man also wakes up at 6 a.m., leaves the house, and returns in an hour.  Kamin’s technology can learn to automatically turn off the heater for the woman who is leaving to go to work all day, but not for the man who is out jogging. 
Gaining this insight requires little effort on the homeowner’s part.  In homes that already have smart water and electrical meters installed, residents simply add a sensor to each doorway that measures height, direction, and motion.  Through these sensors, Kamin’s technology is able to identify the occupants, the house floor plan, and energy usage by occupant – with data conveniently available on an iPhone application.
Kamin group is working with the UVA business school to ensure that his energy solution is not just innovative, but also cost effective and scalable.  They’ve set a goal to reduce energy costs by 30 to 50 percent for no more than $300.  In contrast, a typical energy audit can cost $300 to $500, with an additional $3,000 to $4,000 to insulate the house—or a retrofit costing tens of thousands of dollars.  Considering the average energy bill is around $80 per month, this investment doesn’t pay for many consumers.
In addition to his Master’s degree and Ph.D. in Computer Science from UC Berkeley, Kamin holds Bachelor’s degrees in electrical engineering, cognitive science, and philosophy from Rutgers University.