Introducing the Residential Home Diagnostic System (RHDS)

helping to create a more adaptable and responsive environment using open source technology


Imagine being able to reduce your home energy bill, increase comfort, and create a healthier environment. That’s the promise behind investing into a home energy efficiency measure.

Often the first step is to conduct a home Energy Audit to find out how your home uses energy. Unfortunately calling in an expert can set you back financially and it’s a onetime arrangement.

It’s sometimes said that improving energy efficiency is more like a journey, not a destination. If so, having access to, seasonally adjusted, actionable information could be very useful by serving as a “what to do” home improvement guide. Perhaps it’s time for an IOT solution to assist.

Reducing heat loss saves money

In a typical home, heating and cooling accounts for more than half of the energy use, making it the largest expense for most home owners. Most often Conduction and Convection are the main causes of heat loss leading to unnecessary increased energy use.

Conduction is heat loss through the exterior surface or “building envelope” (roof, walls, windows, doors, etc.) and Convection is heat loss via air infiltration (warm air escaping the building being replaced by cold outside air).

The bottom line is: the greater the heat loss, the greater the energy requirement (or carbon footprint) and subsequent energy bill.

Residential Home Diagnostic System (RHDS)

For the Open IOT Challenge we will build a prototype “Energy Modelling” system based on open source software and sensors that measures conduction, heat loss through the building envelope. We plan to implement our system as a “Service Platform” with Device management capabilities.

Our hope is that a diagnostic system, as such, in the hands of a homeowner would allow them to make more informed home improvement decisions, perhaps improvements that are more adaptable and responsive to seasonal weather change. The obvious net benefits would be to drive down cost, improve comfort and reduce carbon output. All of which would help to create “Smart Cities” which are greener and more sustainable.

Benefits of a IoT Home Diagnostics System:

  1. Determine a households suitability for retrofit work which would result in energy savings and a carbon reduction of potentially 60-80%;
  2. Validate energy savings retrofit work through “after the work is done” performance improvement monitoring;
  3. Verify HVAC (Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning) system sizing, an over or undersized condition based on actual performance;
  4. Detect HVAC and supporting control systems operational faults such as no heat;
  5. Improve homeowner comfortability;
  6. Help homeowners see the value of using Smart Home products towards lowering energy consumption and improving the indoor environment.

Delivery and Success Plan

In our view the success of the project will largely depend on how quickly we can “wire things up” using open source solutions. As a secondary goal, we plan to architect the solution as a “Gateway Platform” with Device Management capabilities.

System Architecture (Preliminary)


We have broken the project into three deliverables;

  1. Preliminary system design and hardware / software component tests;
  2. Wire up the prototype as a standalone system;
  3. Connect the data to the cloud; time permitting.

We’ll do our best to provide regular updates on our progress so that anyone wanting to follow along can do so. We’ll also expand on what we are doing and why as we proceed. So please provide your input…”this truly is a work in progress”.

Till next time.