Controlling home temperature from a smartphone is already reality for many people, but what if we could take advantage of new variable energy tariffs to save more energy – automatically?
A mobile feature with such capabilities is being tested in Norway.
The adoption of time-of-use tariffs by an increasing number of utility providers across Europe – coupled with the advent of smart meters – is revealing more and more opportunities for utility customers.
Being charged a different price for energy consumption every hour will not necessarily change all our habits – we will always need lighting when it's dark as well as electricity when we cook dinner after work – but there are cases where it makes perfect sense to shift consumption according to price, if done automatically. How we set our home temperature is one of these cases.
“In most Norwegian homes the largest energy consumer is the electric heating. Smart cost control is essential for an energy smart home,” says Thomas Mathisen, Marketing manager at Gudbrandsdal Energi.
Gudbransdal Energi has partnered with Eliq and Eidsiva Marked to test a new mobile feature as part of Eliq's energy service app on 300 homes in Norway.
While most households use the same smart thermostat provided by Mclimate, this functionality is not bound to a specific device and works regardless of the thermostat's brand.
There are obvious and less obvious variables that affect our indoor temperature, such as the weather, how long the heaters have been on and which appliances we have been using. There are so many factors indeed that most of the time our home temperature changes a few fractions of a degree without us even noticing it.
The mobile app allows users to set their ideal home temperature and – most importantly – their desired balance between maximum comfort and maximum savings.
Maximum comfort means that the app will take into account all variables affecting indoor temperature in order to match it exactly with the desired temperature, while maximum savings means that the time-of-use energy tariff will be in focus to obtain a temperature that is close to the desired one, but flexible enough to take advantage of the variable prices to maximise savings.
Eliq's thermostat feature is not just about that. With energy prices fluctuating several times a day – up to every half an hour – there is more room for an efficient use of the heating system. For example, starting to pre-heat our home during off peak times, when energy prices are considerably lower than at peak times, could sensibly lower our bill. Eliq's app does it automatically.
Lars Eivind Stagrim Håve, Product manager for energy related products at Eidsiva Marked has seen this happening in Norwegian homes. "Our customers like the fact that we can offer automated savings for them. Both in terms of saved costs but also the increasing requirement of reducing our personal carbon footprint."
This new feature paves the way to a series of developments that could revolutionise our energy consumptions without affecting our habits. What if we could come home after work – when energy prices peak – and tell our electric car to recharge with cheap energy during the night? And what if we could make it automatic with a single touch on our smartphone?
“A large part of our personal footprint comes from our in-home energy consumption. Making energy transparent and easier to optimise is a crucial part of helping people make a difference in their everyday life” declares Joakim Botha, founder and business developer at Eliq. “This kind of automated savings is crucial for creating a sustainable energy consumption and a greener future.”
About the author
Lorenzo Alberini is content marketing intern at Eliq, a customer engagement software company based in Gothenburg, Sweden and London, UK.