Keeping the heater or air-con running all day is no doubt a pretty quick way to rack up a massive electricity bill. This is multiplied many times over in commercial/larger settings, like for example at a zoo where they need to run both heaters and air-con depending on the climate that they’re trying to maintain for the animals.
However thanks to IBM, the Marwell Zoo in Hampshire will hopefully be able to reduce its heating costs as the company is planning on using AI to help the heater run more efficiently. At the moment the zoo relies on infrared heaters installed above the bedding areas of their animal houses, and these heaters are typically left on throughout the night.
According to the zoo in a video by the BBC, they estimate that about a third of their electricity bill comes from just heating alone. However with the use of AI, infrared sensors, and a Raspberry Pi, IBM has managed to create a device that can detect when the animals are in their enclosures and thus turn the heating on, since keeping the heating on when no animals are present is a waste of electricity.
That being said, this is just a step towards creating a smarter heating system for animals. The next step according to the BBC video is looking at how the animals react to such a system, such as whether or not the turning on/off of the heater might have an impact on their behavior and sleeping habits.