The end of thermostat lock boxes?

Since the dawn of air conditioning itself, there has been a struggle over who gets to set the thermostat.  Facilities managers would like the cooling system to come on just enough to kick the dust off the unit and ensure that it’s maintenance-free for the year.   But for someone sitting in a building when it’s sweltering outside, the temptation to crank that thermostat down to a chilly 65 degrees can be too much to avoid.  When this happens, air conditioning can run unnecessarily, and even ice over if left running at too low of a temperature for too long.   

To prevent this scenario, facilities managers have traditionally turned to the thermostat lock box:  a plastic or metal box that goes over top of the thermostat and generally needs to be opened with a key.  On the plus side, thermostat lock boxes are effective; if building occupants can’t touch the thermostat, they can’t change it!  On the downside, use of a thermostat lock box requires that when adjustments do need to be made to set points to accommodate building comfort, only the person with the key can make them.   If that person isn’t on-site, this can lead to costly site visits, and occupant frustration and lack of productivity when it’s just ‘too hot’.

Today’s smart technology is solving the problems with the traditional thermostat lock box.  Using smart thermostats, facilities managers have many more options than just ‘locked’ or ‘unlocked’.   They can set a range of temperatures within which building occupants may adjust the set point, or require a PIN code to make a thermostat change.  They can allow for brief overrides to thermostat settings, like during a particularly hot day, but then ensure that the thermostat resumes an optimized schedule thereafter.  And, they can view what’s happening with any given thermostat in any of their buildings at any time, and make remote changes from wherever they are.  

Giving facilities managers additional control over energy buildings and optimal air conditioning unit schedules is a benefit to integrating today’s smart thermostats in many business environments.  And, making fast, remote adjustments for building comfort can please occupants as well.  With smart thermostats, thermostat lock boxes may become a thing of the past.

Adam Paul