Towards plug&play smart thermostats inspired by reinforcement learning
Buildings are immensely energy-demanding and this fact is enhanced by the expectation of even more increment of energy consumption in the future. In order to mitigate this problem, a low-cost, flexible and high-quality Decision-Making Mechanism for supporting the tasks of a Smart Thermostat is proposed. Energy efficiency and thermal comfort are the two primary quantities regarding control performance of a building's HVAC system. Apart from demonstrating a conflicting relationship, they depend not only on the building's dynamics, but also on the surrounding climate and weather, thus rendering the problem of finding a long-term control scheme hard, and of stochastic nature. The introduced mechanism is inspired by Reinforcement Learning techniques and aims at satisfying both occupants' thermal comfort and limiting energy consumption. In contrast to to existing methods, this approach focuses on a plug&play solution, that does not require detailed building models and is applicable to a wide variety of buildings as it learns the dynamics using gathered information from the environment. The proposed control mechanisms were evaluated via a well-known building simulation framework and implemented on ARM-based, low-cost embedded devices.