Title:
Energy optimizer
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
The operation of the Energy Optimizer is based on the fact that within any furnace there is an optimum operating temperature above which the furnace's heat exchanger reflects rather than absorbs any significant amount of additional thermal energy. Once that optimal heat exchanger temperature has been achieved, any continued application of thermal energy is typically reflected up the chimney as lost heat, wasted energy, and added pollutants to the atmosphere.

The Energy Optimizer controls the operation of the furnace by continually sensing the slope or rate of change in temperature on the secondary side of the heat exchanger. This slope information is then stored for ongoing operational reference and control. In this way the Energy Optimizer manages the furnace's best (optimal), operating characteristics within the particular installed working environment.

In addition, this slope information is interpreted to provide performance and operational safety related information.




Inventors:
Dykes, Ronald M. (Penhold, CA)
Wessel, Doug W. (Calgary, CA)
Application Number:
10/218466
Publication Date:
05/08/2003
Filing Date:
08/15/2002
Assignee:
DYKES RONALD M.
WESSEL DOUG W.
Primary Class:
International Classes:
F23N5/00; G05D23/19; (IPC1-7): F25B29/00
View Patent Images:



Primary Examiner:
CIRIC, LJILJANA V
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Ron M. Dykes (Penhold, AB, CA)
Claims:
1. We claim that if one skilled in the science monitors the rate of rise or fall in temperature over time of a heat exchanger, one can determine certain characteristics of the apparatus and the space. A heat exchanger is a device that allows thermal energy to be transferred from one medium to another. A heat exchanger can be used for either cooling or heating a space or medium. The heat exchanger performance is relational to the characteristics of the space and the characteristics of the heating or cooling apparatus. One skilled in the science can find the range of heat absorption of a heat exchanger that is nearing the limit of its ability to change over time. At this point the heat exchanger will no longer increase its transfer rate of heat. When this point is reached the heat exchanger can be said to be saturated. All further applied energies are reflected from the input side of the heat exchanger and all energies removed from the output side of the heat exchanger become essentially constant over time. The application of more energy to the input side of the heat exchanger will result in only reflecting that energy back again. In the case of a home heating appliance or furnace, the excess energy is reflected up the chimney. By monitoring the slope (rate of change), of the rise of energy transferred from the heat exchanger to the space, one can map the operational characteristics of the apparatus heating or cooling the space. At the point when and where the heat exchanger reaches saturation and reflection begins, the input energy may be turned off or reduced. When saturation is reached an excess of energy on the input side of the heat exchanger exists. The heat exchange will continue to absorb this energy and transfer that energy to the output side of the heat exchanger for a given period of time. The given period of time is dependent on the type of heat exchanger and the type of energy being used. By managing the application of energy within a range that allows for greatest heat absorption, the most efficient use of the energy can be obtained. By this method a less efficient system or apparatus can be made more efficient. By retaining the rate of change information thus gathered (learned), one skilled in the science can map the characteristics of the space by monitoring the rate in which the energy is required to maintain the space. By monitoring the energy used to attain a set point for maintaining the space and then by monitoring how long the set point is maintained, one skilled in the science can monitor the rate in which the energy put into the space is lost and more energy is required to maintain a set point or temperature within that space. When this is monitored over time one can quantify the amount of heat being lost from within that space and infer reasons for that heat loss. One skilled in the science can observe the thermal quality of the energy being supplied to the apparatus by monitoring the rate of rise of output energy from the heat exchanger one can map the characteristics of the apparatus maintaining the space. If the apparatus is a home heating appliance or furnace the initial rate of rise of the output energy or hot air plenum will depict the amount of energy the fuel has or is supplying. If the initial rate of rise is compared to the previously gathered (or learned), rates of rise a relative change in thermal quality of the energy can be assessed. One skilled in the science can monitor the rate of decline of output energy being supplied by an apparatus. If the apparatus is a home heating appliance or furnace, and the set point is reached the apparatus will terminate the energy supply to the heat exchanger. This will result in a decline of energy being removed from the heat exchanger output side to the space. If the rate of decline is monitored there are certain characteristics that can be observed. If these characteristics are compared with previously gathered (or learned) characteristics certain conditions can be observed. In the case of a home heating apparatus or furnace, the loss of a fan motor operation or other impediments to expected airflow can be identified.

2. By using the historical data collected (or learned) from the rise and fall over time of the heating or cooling apparatus characteristics as defined in claim 1, one skilled in the science can monitor the thermostat functionality. If the thermostat malfunctions the space is at risk of damage. If the thermostat were to stay on (stick on) then the space would attain undesirable temperatures. Based on historical data collected (or learned), it is possible to then determine if the thermostat is operating out of its designed parameters to then respond in some fashion to reduce the risk of damage to the space.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0001] 1. Field of the Invention

[0002] The present invention relates generally to “Energy Savers” and more specifically it relates to an Energy Optimizer for attaching to a furnace (heating), or air-conditioning (cooling) device so when it is operated it will operate at a higher energy conversion efficiency rate, based upon first learning about how the furnace or boiler's heat exchanger and other design mechanics perform and then using that learned information to improve the unit's efficiency in its use of the fuel that it consumes. While this document focuses on the furnace, boiler, or heating appliance, the fundamental underlying intellectual properties contained herein also apply to air-conditioning appliances because both types of appliances use “Heat Exchangers” to accomplish their design objectives.

[0003] 2. Description of the Prior Art

[0004] It can be appreciated that a variety of energy savers have been in use with conventional non-portable space heating and temperature-management control systems for years. Typically, these energy savers are and have been used with furnaces, boilers, and other conventional non-portable space heating and temperature-management control systems that regulate the temperature of defined spaces through the conversion of heat produced by the combustion of thermal energy producing fuels such as propane, natural gas, fuel oil, etc. These “Time Management” energy savers (Offset Thermostats), work by regulating the demand for heat by the time of day and sometimes even by the day of the week etc. The assumption is made that if a specific temperature is not required at a particular time because no one is home, or everyone is asleep, less heat should be provided. The main problem with this approach is that when objects within the space, being heated (such as furnishings etc.), are permitted to cool because a warmer space is not needed at a point in time, when the space requires additional heat later, the various objects also have to be re-heated, thus consuming the equivalent of much of the energy saved earlier.

[0005] In addition to the problems encountered with the time management type of energy savers, there are several basic design problems associated with many of the conventional non-portable space heating and temperature-management control systems in service today, particularly with furnace and boiler units put into service prior to 1991 (standard-efficiency and medium-efficiency furnaces and boilers):

[0006] The main problem with these conventional non-portable space heating and temperature-management control systems is that at some point in the continuous “burner-on” portion of the heating cycle of the system, a point of saturation is approached within the heat exchanger. At this point, the secondary medium within the heat exchanger (air, or liquid), is no longer able to absorb and subsequently radiate all of thermal energy being communicated from the primary medium. As a result, ever increasing amounts of thermal energy generated within the primary side of the heat exchanger is reflected back, off the primary medium as wasted thermal energy, (typically vented as wasted heat). This in effect wastes some of the fuel that was intended to provide usable heat in the first place.

[0007] While these older conventional non-portable space heating and temperature-management control systems are generally suitable for the particular purpose to which they address (heating space), they are not necessarily very efficient (typically only 55% to 65% efficient) in the use of the thermal energy created through combustion.

[0008] A second and related problem with older conventional non-portable space heating and temperature-management control systems is that while the majority of existing furnaces and boilers do provide some form of internal safety protection to themselves through the use of an upper-limit or over-temperature (high temperature detection), switch, they typically do not identify any reason for the shut-down actions that occasionally occur. For example, with hot air furnaces, reasons for such high-limit (safety), shut-downs include fan related problems such as fan belt slippage or breakage, fan motor failure, or air filter degradation beyond manufacturer defined operating limits. The owner/operator of the conventional furnace or boiler is never specifically informed that any safety shut-down has occurred, (never mind the reasons behind the safety shutdown).

[0009] And a third problem with the older conventional non-portable space heating and temperature-management control systems is that the majority of existing furnaces, boilers, and other non-portable space-heating appliances will initiate and support the combustion of fuel even when complete combustion is not probable, such as where “down drafts” are present into the combustion chamber itself, (the space being heated is at a negative air pressure with respect to the outside environment). In this case, not only is cold air being drawn in to the space intended to be heated via the stack, but the exhaust gas normally vented from the combustion chamber through the stack is also being forced in to the space intended to be heated This creates a less safe environment for human habitation In this respect, the Energy Optimizer substantially departs from the conventional concepts and designs of the prior art, and in so doing provides an apparatus primarily developed for the purpose of attaching to an existing Standard or Medium efficiency furnace (heating), or air-conditioning (cooling) device so that it will operate at a higher energy conversion efficiency rate than was initially designed for, (the first problem identified above). This is accomplished through the Energy Optimizer first learning about how the unit's heat exchanger and other design mechanics perform and then using that learned information to improve the unit's efficiency in its use of the fuel that it consumes In its evaluation of the rate of change of energy absorption by the heat exchanger, the Energy Optimizer also addresses the second problem identified above in its identification of potential safety problems as a result of the identification of changes in the historical rate of change of energy absorption.

[0010] While this document focuses on furnaces and/or boilers (heating appliances), the fundamental underlying intellectual properties contained herein also apply to air-conditioning appliances, because both types of appliances use “Heat Exchangers” to accomplish their design objectives.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0011] In view of the foregoing disadvantages inherent in the known types of energy savers identified in the prior art, this invention (the Energy Optimizer), provides a new construction wherein the same objective of saving energy can be utilized This is accomplished by attaching to and “Encapsulating” the existing fuel control sub-systems of existing furnaces or boilers (heating), or air-conditioning (cooling) units in such a way that when the existing unit is in operation it will operate at a higher energy conversion efficiency rate than it was originally designed to operate.

[0012] The general purpose of the Energy Optimizer, which will be described subsequently in greater detail, is to provide a new form of energy saver that has many of the manufacturer-stated advantages of the Setback Thermostat type of energy saver mentioned heretofore as well as many novel features that now result in a new Energy Optimizer which is not anticipated, rendered obvious, suggested, or even implied by any of the prior art energy savers, either alone or in any combination thereof To attain this, the present invention is generally comprised of a thermostat input circuit, a heat sensing device, an analog to digital (A to D) converter, a digital electronic analytical engine (microprocessor), micro-code (software), a controller interface (relay), an on-board power supply, and an external input/output cable. FIG. 3 contains a representation of these various components and their various interconnections.

[0013] The input signal wire from the external thermostat (purpose of which is to indicate to the furnace or boiler that heat is required), is connected to an A to D converter circuit to create a known voltage level to indicate a “Thermostat On” condition as well as providing a direct (non-converted), input signal to the controller interface for controlled communication to the fuel control valve.

[0014] The Heat Sensing Device is a thermister mounted on a manufactured “Heat Probe” unit that is inserted into the hot air plenum which contains air or other/liquid thermal transfer mediums heated (or cooled), by the furnace, boiler, or air-conditioner for distribution throughout the physical space intended to be temperature controlled. Its two electrical wires are inserted into the Energy Optimizer as raw analog data representing the relative temperature within the hot air plenum defined above The analog relative temperature is then converted (Analog to Digital) to create specific digital values for use by the Analytical Engine.

[0015] The Analytical Engine is a microprocessor integrated circuit that takes digitized values from the A to D converter(s) and under control of specific micro-code creates, stores, and compares pre-defined and current furnace operating conditions to create an activating control signal (line).

[0016] The micro-code (decision support software routines), used to determine the basis for the specific controlling decisions is based on the proprietary understanding of the relationships between current operating input signals and historical microprocessor-defined and stored (learned), operating conditions which were recorded and stored during the “Learn Cycle” (which occurred as part of the initial installation). The Learn Cycle can be repeated at any time by specific request, involving the pressing of the “Learn Switch” located on the Energy Optimizer. These “Proprietary Understandings” are the ESSENCE of the invention.

[0017] The Controller Interface receives the control signal(s) on the control line from the Analytical Engine to set a condition by turning on a relay or other switching device which in turn physically allows the passage of the original unconverted Thermostat-On signal as an output signal to control a furnace burner or air conditioning control valve.

[0018] A filtered bridge rectifier circuit provides the 5.1 V dc required to power the various components embodied within the Energy Optimizer unit itself.

[0019] The wiring harness contains three pairs of 20 Ga. copper wires: one pair to provide the thermostat input signal to the Energy Optimizer, one pair to provide the control signals generated by the Energy Optimizer to control the furnace's fuel control valve, and the remaining pair to access the 24V ac power source taken from the secondary side of the furnace's fuel control valve power source transformer.

[0020] The above has outlined, rather broadly, the more important features of the invention in order that the detailed description thereof may be better understood, and in order that the present contribution to the art may be better appreciated. There are additional features of the invention that will be described hereinafter.

[0021] In this respect, before explaining at least one embodiment of the invention in detail, it is to be understood that the invention is not limited in its application to the details of construction and to the arrangements of the components set forth in the following description or illustrated in the drawings. The invention is capable of other embodiments and of being practiced and carried out in various ways Also, it is to be understood that the phraseology and terminology employed herein are for the purpose of the description and should not be regarded as limiting.

[0022] The primary objective of the present invention (the Energy Optimizer), is to provide a new energy saver device that will overcome the shortcomings of the prior art devices.

[0023] The first specific object of the present invention is to provide an energy saver for attaching to a furnace or boiler (heating), or air-conditioning (cooling) device so when it is in operation, it will operate at a higher energy conversion efficiency rate than was achieved in the original design.

[0024] The Energy Optimizer manages the flow and availability of the combustion fuel (natural gas, propane gas, or other liquid or solid hydrocarbon fuels) in such a way as to only provide sufficient fuel as to maintain an optimum amount of thermal energy for absorption and transfer through the heat exchanger and thus be dissipated in a useful fashion by the secondary side of that same exchanger as heat for specific purpose Should the Energy Optimizer fail for any reason in its supervisory control over the original furnace, boiler or heating system to which it has been retroactively attached, the said original heating or cooling device will automatically revert to it's original mode of operation as intended by its original manufacturer.

[0025] The Energy Optimizer will also inform the owner or operator of the furnace or boiler that an “upper-limit or over-temperature” safety shut down has occurred in their furnace or boiler, so that the owner or operator can initiate maintenance procedures to check for and possibly remediate specific causes.

[0026] Other objects and advantages of the present invention will become obvious to the reader and it is intended that these objects and advantages are within the scope of the present invention. This specifically includes the enhancements defined here within regarding the later-to-be-released Enhanced Energy Optimizer which will enable additional encapsulation control based on the sensing of negative air pressure from the space being heated to the external environment.

[0027] To the accomplishment of the above and related objects, this invention may be embodied in the form illustrated in the accompanying drawings, attention being called to the fact, however, that the drawings are illustrative only, and that changes may be made in the specific construction illustrated.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0028] Various other objects, features and attendant advantages of the present invention will become fully appreciated as the same becomes better understood when considered in conjunction with the accompanying drawings, in which like reference characters designate the same or similar parts throughout the several views, and wherein:

[0029] FIG. 1 is a representation of a typical Furnace or Boiler Heating Cycle.

[0030] FIG. 2 is an Example of the Heating Cycle Temperature Slope, (temperature Vs time).

[0031] FIG. 3 is a Functional Flowchart For Energy Optimizer (Furnace Version).

DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

[0032] Turning now descriptively to the drawings, in which similar reference characters denote similar elements throughout the several views, the attached figures illustrate the Energy Optimizer, which comprises a thermostat input circuit, a heat sensing device, an Analog to Digital (A to D), converter, a digital electronic analytical engine (microprocessor), a (relay), controller interface, software (micro-code), an on-board power supply, and an external input/output cable.

[0033] FIG. 3 contains a representation of these various components and their various interconnections. There is an input signal wire (pair), from the external thermostat that is electrically connected (wired) to the Energy Optimizer. There is also a thermister mounted on a manufactured “Heat Probe” unit that is inserted into the hot air plenum to measure temperatures within that immediate space. Its two electrical wires are inserted into the Energy Optimizer as raw analog data representing the relative temperature within the hot air plenum defined above. The A to D converter which is a group of integrated circuit components on the circuit board translates variable voltage levels to specific digital values for use by the Analytical Engine. The Analytical Engine is a microprocessor integrated circuit that takes digitized values from the A to D converter(s) and under control of specific micro-code creates and stores defined furnace operating conditions as well as creating an activating control signal (line). The micro-code (decision support software routines), are used to determine the basis for specific controlling decisions by the Energy Optimizer. These decisions are based on proprietary understanding of the relationships between current operation input signals and historical microprocessor-defined and stored (learned), operating conditions. The Controller Interface receives the control signal(s) on the control line from the Analytical Engine to set a condition by turning on (or off), a relay or other device which in turn physically routes an output signal to control a furnace or air conditioning burner control valve. A filtered bridge rectifier circuit provides the 5.1 V-dc required to service the various components embodied within the Energy Optimizer unit itself And the wiring harness contains three pairs of 20 Ga. copper wires; one pair providing the thermostat input signal to the Energy Optimizer, one pair providing an electrical path for the control signals generated by the Energy Optimizer to control the furnace's fuel control valve, and the remaining pair to provide access the 24V ac power source which is taken from the secondary side of the furnace's power source transformer for actuating it's fuel control valve.

[0034] There is an input signal wire from the external thermostat (purpose of which is to indicate to the furnace or boiler that heat is required). The purpose of this component or sub-assembly is to take in a signal which can then be interpreted to determine when the space needing temperature management is in need for the introduction of air (either heated or cooled), to provide temperature management, and to also determine when that need has been satisfied. Depending on the type of thermostat involved, different specific thermostat wires will be connected to the Optimizer unit's wiring harness. These include the basic two-wire versions as well as various retro-installed timed/programmed (Offset), thermostats.

[0035] The Heat Sensing Device is a thermister mounted on a manufactured “Heat Probe” unit that is inserted into the hot air plenum which contains air heated (or cooled), by the furnace or air-conditioner for distribution throughout the physical space intended to be temperature controlled. The probe's two electrical wires are electrically connected to the Energy Optimizer to provide raw analog data representing the relative temperature within the hot air plenum defined above. The thermister is rated at 10,000 ohms at a temperature of 80 degrees Fahrenheit. The only structural variation involved may be the physical length of the Heat Probe itself Because the intent is to capture “relative temperature” a variety of different thermisters will work.

[0036] A group of integrated circuit components function as A to D converters translate variable voltage levels to specific digital values for use by the Analytical Engine. A single Integrated Circuit chip on the circuit board contains individual A to D circuits, two of which are actually in use in the Basic Energy Optimizer. The remaining circuits are also wired into the circuit to enable later enhancements and additional signals for later use, as determined by possible future updates to the controlling micro-code being used, (ie the Enhanced Energy Optimizer). Functionally the objectives do not change. However at a later time, additional input signals may be digitized for further analytical and decision support use.

[0037] The Analytical Engine is a microprocessor integrated circuit that takes digitized values from the A to D converter(s) and under control of specific micro-code creates, stores, and compares pre-defined and current furnace operating conditions to create an activating control signal (line). As well as serving as the storage medium for the “decision-support” micro-code, the microprocessor chip also stores “learned” or benchmark operating parameters and data for the furnace it is intended to control, as well as regularly updated or “current” furnace operation data. Both sets of data are then compared and assessed under control of the stored micro-code to determine appropriate decisions as then expressed by the control signal line and led indicator outputs from the Analytical Engine Over time, the specific micro-processor chip may change due to either increased analytical functionality requirements or market availability of the specific chips being used. Functionally the Analytical Engine will not change however.

[0038] The micro-code (decision support software routines), used to determine the basis for specific controlling decisions based on proprietary understanding of the relationships between current operation input signals and historical microprocessor-defined and stored (learned), operating conditions Functionally this software enables the analytical engine to: sense rates of change of heat saturation within the heat exchanger for the purpose of detecting, assessing, and then retaining the results (learning) which best represent the optimum saturation point for a particular heat exchanger within a particular heating device, within its operating environment. The computer programming code is specifically designed and written to make decisions based on the “rate of change” or slope of the digitized input heat sensing and/or other input signals to determine and define different responses as expressed by the various output signals created. As additional input condition signals are added, the micro-code may be modified to integrate these additional inputs in to the decision-making processes.

[0039] The understanding and utilization of the rate of change (or slope), of heat transfer within the heat exchanger portion of the heating or cooling unit as expressed in the micro-code is the essence of the intellectual property of this Energy Optimizer invention.

[0040] The Controller Interface receives the control signal(s) on the control line from the Analytical Engine to set a condition by turning on a relay or other device which in turn physically routes an output signal taken from the Thermostat-on signal line, to control a furnace or air conditioning burner control valve. The physical relay has two sets of normally-open and normally-close relay points even though only one set of points are used in the basic Energy Optimizer unit. It is the normally-closed set of contacts within that active set of points that are used to physically control the burner control-valve involved By using the normally-closed set, should the Energy Optimizer unit itself fail for any reason, the external heating/cooling system will still be able to work as it normally would without the encapsulation control provided by the Energy Optimizer. Other than physical relay manufacturer changes due to supply, demand, availability, and performance experience gained from the field, no changes are anticipated.

[0041] The power supply involves a bridge-rectifier and a filter network to change the 24V ac power source to a well filtered and stable 5.1V dc output voltage to service the various components embodied within the Energy Optimizer unit itself. No functional variations will be involved however, switch mode, linear, or other methods of converting the power may be used. In some cases the use of battery power is also a possibility

[0042] The wiring harness contains three pairs of 20 Ga. copper wires, one pair providing the thermostat input signal to the Energy Optimizer, one pair to provide the control signals generated by the Energy Optimizer to control the furnace's fuel control valve, and the remaining pair to access the 24V ac power source taken from the secondary side of the furnace's power source transformer for actuating it's fuel control valve. While the initial wiring harness contains 6 wires, the plug in the Energy Optimizer itself is wired to allow for eight or ten wires back into the optimizer. In this way the optimizer is able to handle additional input signals to it's A to D converters for processing using later versions of the micro-code. It is also possible to involve a wireless method of communicating with the Energy Optimizer, and this alternative may be introduced in the future.

[0043] Each of the eight sub-systems or assemblies are connected in the printed circuit board, in such a way as to enable them to co-function together to achieve their collective purpose. The thermostat input pair of wires, the control line pair of wires and the 24V ac power source pair of wires are all connected to the unit via the external input/output cable to their respective places within the unit. The thermostat in and control line out pairs are connected to the relay controller sub assembly. The heat sensing device is connected to the A to D converter, with the output of the A to D Converter then connected to the Analytical Engine. The Analytical Engine operates under the control of the micro-code program statements which are permanently loaded or burned into the EEPROM memory contained within the memory portion of the micro-processor integrated circuit chip itself The output from the Analytical Engine is connected to the relay controller sub assembly to provide the control signal it needs to switch the control lines on and off to the external energy, (gas) control valve which is a part of the furnace or air-conditioner unit itself Please see FIG. 3 for a graphic representation of these interconnect relationships.

[0044] In a later version it is intended that exhaust stack airflow will also be monitored with the intent to determine positive or negative combustion air flow at the burner or primary side of the heat exchanger. The information gathered will then be digitized through two more circuits on board the A to D converter, and the results integrated into the Analytical Engine to provide further measure of burner-on, burner-off control, specifically to reduce the probability of both generating and disbursing carbon monoxide within the combustion chamber and the space being heated.

[0045] All heating systems are similar in that they heat a medium and that medium in turn heats air which is blown or radiated into the space being heated. This medium or heat exchanger differs from furnace to furnace but it's purpose is the same Existing systems just apply or communicate the heat to the exchanger without regard to it's varying ability to absorb heat and exhaust the left over to the outside air. This action results in excessive heat loss and added pollutants to the atmosphere.

[0046] The Energy Optimizer makes controlling decisions based on the history of the furnace (as learned), and the current heat exchanger's performances to determine and control for the optimum output temperature of the heat exchanger In this way the Energy Optimizer controls the thermal energy source to locate and maintain this high absorption quality “sweet-spot”, on the heat exchanger, thereby utilizing the heat from the fuel being combusted more efficiently Since all furnaces are different in their temperature curves, the Energy Optimizer must first learn the particular furnace's characteristics. As the temperature levels out, the heat exchanger is approaching its saturation point. This point is where there is little change to the output air temperature being delivered to the space. At this point the flew temperature begins rising more sharply. This flew temperature will continue to rise until it too stabilizes and the furnace operates this way until the house has reached it's set point and the thermostat completes it's cycle. The device monitors this output air temperature and determines the best absorption rate of the heat exchanger. At that point the burner is shut off. The thermostat is still requesting heat and the outlet air temperature is still correct to heat the space in the same time frame. The difference is that the flame is off and thereby not wasting all it's energy to heat to outside air by way of the exhaust stack By the time the device turns off the flame the stack temp is sufficient to maintain draft to exhaust the fumes. When the output air temperature begins to drop the flame is restored and the high absorption rate is repeated. This action continues until the thermostat no longer requires the furnace to be on. The device then returns to a ready state waiting for the next heating request signal from the thermostat. In simple terms, the device reduces the reflected heat that goes up the chimney by cycling the flame on/off in the appropriate high absorption area of the heat exchanger. Savings in energy become dependent on the original efficiency of the furnace. The less efficient the original heating unit's design, the more opportunity for efficiency improvement.

[0047] A remote mounted thermostat is used to both control the “set” temperature of the space to be temperature managed and to monitor the actual temperature of that space When the space cools sufficiently the thermostat requests that the furnace turn-on and return the space to the set temperature.

[0048] When the furnace first ignites the system is relatively cold The flames begin to heat the heat exchanger as seen in FIG. 1—reference 1. This rate of change in temperature is monitored closely. In FIG. 1 reference 1 to 2 the plenum temperature rises sharply due to heating energy being applied to the heat exchanger from the burner flame. This is also observed in FIG. 2 reference 1 to 3 When the heat is sufficient the fan cycle begins [FIG. 1 reference 2] and pushes hot air into the space based on a separate fan control integral to the furnace. In FIG. 1 reference 2 the hot air plenum temperature drops during the first few seconds after the fan turns on. In FIG. 2 reference 3 the graph shows a rapid decline in the slope once the fan turns on. Once the fan is “ON” the slope of the heat rise changes [FIG. 1 reference 2 to 3]. As the heat exchanger becomes hotter and hotter the air temperature in the hot air plenum becomes more and more stable, to the point where the rate of change of the slope becomes less [FIG. 2 reference 4]. As the hot air plenum side of the heat exchange stabilizes the heat exchanger begins to reflect more and more heat rather then absorb the heat and the exhaust temperature of the burner rises. When the slope of the heat rise approaches zero the wasted heat going up the chimney increases.

[0049] The thermostat will request a burner ON condition until the space has reached the set point the thermostat was set to. When the thermostat has reached it's set point the burner will turn off [FIG. 1 reference 5, FIG. 2 reference 5] and the fan will continue to remove heat from the heat exchanger until the fan control causes the fan to turn “OFF” [FIG. 1 reference 6, FIG. 2 reference 6].

[0050] Since in forced-air furnaces, the purpose of the fan is to move air across the heat exchanger to remove heat at specific rate, the air motion itself is an influence on the slope characteristic of that heating device [FIG. 1]. In essence, the amount of air flowing past the heat exchanger influences the amount of time required to heat the space. If the airflow decreases over time [plugged filter, etc.] then the slope will increase causing the heating device to reach a slope-approaching zero (heat exchanger saturation), more quickly The smaller the slope the less absorption the heat exchange is experiencing and the more wasted heat goes up the chimney. With less air going by the heat exchanger, less thermal energy is being transferred into the space being heated, and it will take longer to heat the same space, (thus resulting in the consumption of more energy [fuel] to heat the same space.

[0051] Most residential and/or commercial space owners (or renters), typically tend to have little to no maintenance done on their furnace unless a problem appears that they recognize. In some cases, if some problems go unrecognized human loss of life could be a result. The Energy Optimizer is intended to remedy some of these areas of concern by longitudinally monitoring changes (over time), in the heat absorption qualities of a heat exchanger in a furnace or boiler. In this way inferences regarding fan operating conditions, air filters are made, and reported as potential problems through the Energy Optimizer's “Problem” LED.

[0052] As to a further discussion of the manner of usage and operation of the present invention, the same should be apparent from the above description. Accordingly, no further discussion relating to the manner of usage and operation will be provided.

[0053] With respect to the above description then, it is to be realized that the optimum dimensional relationships for the parts of the invention, to include variations in size, materials, shape, form, function and manner of operation, assembly and use, are deemed readily apparent and obvious to one skilled in the art, and all equivalent relationships to those illustrated in the drawings and described in the specification are intended to be encompassed by the present invention.

[0054] Therefore, the foregoing is considered as illustrative only of the principles of the invention. Further, since numerous modifications and changes will readily occur to those skilled in the art, it is not desired to limit the invention to the exact construction and operation shown and described, and accordingly, all suitable modifications and equivalents may be resorted to, falling within the scope of the invention