DALLAS - Lennox Industries Inc. announced it is field testing a web-accessible hvac controls system, based on technology developed in cooperation with Invensys, plc. Consumer testing of the system, called e-Comfort', will begin this summer.

According to officials, Lennox and Invensys are designing e-Comfort technology to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of individual appliances, and to allow these appliances to network with other systems inside and outside the home. "The new control systems have the ability to perform self-diagnostic tests and communicate with service technicians to a degree that is simply unprecedented in the industry," said Rick Marrale, Lennox vp and general manager, oem. Eventually, he noted, the e-Comfort technology will allow users to control their hvac systems from virtually anywhere, helping to lower their energy costs.

"The combination of Invensys' smart control technology and Lennox's comfort system expertise will create trouble-free climate control for the homeowner," said Dale Barnhart, president of Invensys Climate Control. "This exciting new technology will optimize the energy efficiency of the hvac system and allow remote control, monitoring, and diagnostics."

Lennox officials said e-Comfort technology would also decrease the costs of doing business by providing troubleshooting, parts ordering, and immediate warranty processing at the job site, via the Internet. "This reduces warranty processing costs and time spent by service technicians on the job," Marrale said.

The average household energy usage for space heating and air conditioning can be as much as 54% of total consumption of homes, according to a study by the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Lennox officials added that as energy markets develop different pricing systems for peak demand use, consumers will eventually be able to use the e-Comfort networking capability to minimize consumption of electricity on the most expensive days.