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An Energy Saving App to Control Usage From the Cloud An Energy Saving App to Control Usage From the Cloud
Technology

An Energy Saving App to Control Usage From the Cloud

by Shira Levine

March 18, 2013

 


There’s an app for everything and everyone. In India, farmers hydrate their crops from their phones. They dial in via text or call, signaling a central system that remotely activates their irrigation systems so the farmer can be everywhere all at once without the face time and in-person trek. UNICEF uses the mobile phone to facilitate infant HIV testing and treatment. Their mobile app reaches out to communities for feedback through data collection, logistics coordination, and communication for issues addressing water sanitation and access to medications. Forget plastic: Mobile banking projects like M-PESA from Kenya began allocating micro-loans and stockpile payments, and have grown into a multi-national mobile cash transfer system. In remote villages, Doctors Without Borders arm local doctors with cellular technology for remote patient screenings that lessen the burden of commuting for those traveling great distances for medical care. 

Those keeping their footprint local to decrease energy use might look at how efficient their home and personal life run and troubleshoot large and small adjustments. It’s how David Flynn and Carla Case-Flynn were thinking halfway around the world in idyllic Santa Barbara, California. After hunting for ways to better manage their guesthouse, Carla’s Cottages, they went DIY and developed their own energy-saving, time-efficient apps by customizing  way to use mobile technology to control guest use of their pool and spa which in turn lowered their energy bill and improved their guests’ experiences.

“We saved 23 percent on our bill the first month,” says Case-Flynn. “It didn’t make sense for us to keep paying these high, wasteful bills because a guest had left the heat on the pool for three days before anyone realized to turned it off.”

“Guests often forget and leave the lights on all day,” adds David Flynn. “One guest left the pool heater and somehow caused $2,000 in damaged equipment. We couldn’t sustain like that so we looked for a way to control the pool, heat, and lighting from our iPhones and iPads.”

With TotalSync—the combination of the AquaSync pool app and HomeSync, their home automation app—their technology uses streaming cameras placed around their pool and home (not in private spaces) that allows them to see what’s on and off. Thinking green, the technology allowed for their pool—traditionally an energy-sucking amenity—to operate at Carla’s Cottages without using much electricity. The apps have timer and email reminders that alert them and keep them present about what is in use and what isn’t so that they can respond immediately. 

“Home automation is so wide spread,” says Flynn. “Everyone has some version of it. What we needed was something more and that was customized to our needs and that wasn’t complicated to work. It was so simple what we wanted.”

The Flynns worked with developers and programmers around the world to perfect the integrative TotalSync experience. Realizing while their needs were specific to them, the technology translated easily to address a variety home automation needs—regardless of whether or not someone had a pool.

So rather than continuing to talk in frustration to their pool guy about it, in 2010 using oDesk, they found a programmer in India to begin work with. The first iterations were complicated, overwhelming, and confusing. They resulted in the use of five computers and all other sorts of equipment. The point of creating this app was to streamline the experience. Their goal was to develop something simple and manual-free for Case-Flynn’s mother to use and for the cable guy to be given access to.

“We give access to guests as limited users,” says Flynn. “Of course when you’re doing the inventing you realize it’s more than just an app. The app has to speak to something else so we created hardware, the “brain” and then customized cameras as well.” 

AquaSync and HomeSync go live in the next few weeks. Now that the Flynns have entered the app world, they are developing other ways they can integrate and efficiently sync things. Next up? CarSync.

Challenge a neighbor to GOOD's energy smackdown. Find a neighbor with a household of roughly the same square footage and see who can trim their power bill the most. Join the conversation at good.is/energy


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