It is often the case with sci-fi writing and with those who like to predict the future that they are extrapolating from the present. Very few ideas about the future are made up sui generis. They are normally rooted in present day developments. In the case of indoor climate control we can take a look at what is available now to make educated guesses about the future.

Not so long ago people had mercury thermostats with very basic functions to regulate basic HVAC equipment. Then HVAC equipment became more sophisticated and better thermostats became common. Nowadays people are switching over to digital programmable thermostats because they offer far better indoor climate control.

The typical programmable thermostat today gives the user a program slot for each day of the week, and within each day 4 periods to set up: morning, afternoon, evening and night. This has been a tremendous breakthrough because now people can match the heating/cooling of a house with the schedules of the inhabitants. For an average home the heating/cooling comes on when the person wakes up in the morning, it turns down while they are at work, turns up again for their return from work and then turns down again to coincide with bed time.

By matching indoor climate control with people's daily movements waste is cut out and heating/cooling bills are reduced by 30% or more.

Top of the range devices such as the Honeywell THX9321R5000 Prestige HD Thermostat do more than just this. The Honeywell Prestige HD is wi-fi enabled to let it gather information from an Outdoor Sensor about temperature and humidity. It uses this information to suggest ideal settings for indoors. The wi-fi is also used by the portable Comfort Station that allows the user to alter the settings on up to 16 thermostats in the house. This lets you turn down the heating/cooling in parts of the house not occupied to save money. The Honeywell Prestige HD can also control humidifier and dehumidifier devices in a home. These are all advances that will become standard in the future.

Another interesting development is programmable thermostats that are connected to the internet. This is useful because if you are going to come home either earlier or later than expected you can change the settings on your thermostat via your computer or phone to deal with this contingency.

You can see from these innovations that the future for climate control is all about accessibility, being able to remotely change the temperature in your house. It is also about bringing all aspects of indoor climate such as temperature and humidity devices under one 'go to unit'.

My predictions are that in the future thermostats will be able to detect if someone is in a room and automatically make adjustments to room temperature. Also connecting the GPS on phones to thermostats with an internet connection will be able to warn the device to start warming or cooling the house when an inhabitant comes close to the house. The results of these technological advances will be greater indoor comfort and possibly further reductions in bills.

My final prediction is that with global warming, cooling will be much more important than heating and houses will be better designed in terms of natural ventilation and insulation to deal with these climatic changes.