Human beings play a crucial role in the global endeavour to protect the climate, reduce CO2 and conserve energy. Accordingly, grid users and their behaviour are essential components of ASCR’s research, as they form the interface between the technology being researched and its actual use. Ultimately, the amount of energy a building needs and when it needs it depends on people’s use habits. ASCR’s research goal with regard to smart users is therefore to create solutions that are as practicable and suitable for everyday use as possible, that offer residents real added value, and that make it easier for them to save energy.
Using real data for real added value
In order to ensure that the focus is on people, ASCR’s research is based on the real data explicitly provided by 111 households. Smart measurement and control technology (smart MCT) was installed in the participating households, allowing residents to automatically control and independently influence living comfort factors in their homes by means of a home automation system.
In addition to energy consumption and room control data (electricity, hot and cold water, room temperature, indoor air quality, etc.) from the home automation system, the researchers also receive direct feedback on the technologies provided in workshops and surveys.
Incentives for reducing consumption
In the long term, however, the objective is also to promote sustainable, cost-efficient and energy-efficient user behaviour by raising awareness and creating attractive incentive systems. Up to now, the paradigm has been “generation follows consumption”. In the future, however, consumption patterns must be brought in line with renewable generation.
Interim results for smart user research
In an initial sociological survey in 2015, 48 percent of the residents surveyed stated that they were technically proficient and interested in sustainability. An additional 30 percent said that although their understanding of technology was limited, they were interested in reducing energy costs. 13 percent reported low technical proficiency and no particular interest in sustainability. Only 9 percent stated that they were technically proficient but not interested in sustainability.
As the research project progressed, it became clear that only a small proportion of the residents was interested in technical details of the energy system in the long term. There is strong demand for intuitive products and straightforward guidance on how to reduce costs and maintain healthy indoor air quality. So the progressive automation of energy management and extensive testing in the residential sector is correspondingly important.
High satisfaction with the buildings
The surveys also indicate a generally high level of satisfaction with the buildings – 88 percent for the integrated school and daycare centre, for example. The hall of residence received even higher ratings: all the respondents reported being either “satisfied” or “very satisfied”.
At the building level, it also became apparent that urban decentralised energy supply from renewable sources leads to a high number of linkages between the housing sector and the energy industry. Accordingly, property developers were identified as an additional smart user group in the smart city.
In the summer of 2017, ASCR customers were given the opportunity to try out new tariffs developed on the basis of the research findings.