A recent study carried out by Ernst & Young on the behalf of the German Federal Ministry of Economics analyzed benefits and costs of smart metering in the country and concluded that the savings for the residential customers do not justify the costs. Therefore, a less precipitous replacement of existing meters should be arranged, which would place German utilities in conflict with the EU’s target of 80% of consumers equipped with smart meters by 2020.
In the MONERGY project, we aim at providing ICT solutions to promote energy awareness and conservation, in order to lower wastages and costs, and thus CO2 emissions. In particular, we are committed to propose specific strategies considering the peculiarities of two regions under experiment: Carinthia (Austria) and Friuli-Venezia Giulia (Italy). Our initial decision was therefore to conduct an analysis of typical scenarios in the regions, in terms of electrical devices used, availability of smart metering and adaptive tariff plans, exploitation of renewable energy generation. Results of this study are presented in the paper “Strategies for domestic energy conservation in Carinthia and Friuli-Venezia Giulia“, which was presented on November 12th at the EnergieInformatik conference, in Vienna. Beside spotting similarities and differences in the regions, we also provide a short survey on existing conservation strategies that
could be implemented to our purposes.
A simple conservation strategy improving energy awareness is prepaid billing. The user can buy a certain amount of energy in advance, and get his credit decreased upon consumption, and until it reaches zero, which causes a disconnection from the grid. This simple mechanism was shown leading to up to 11% of savings for the customers in UK.
From the survey it turned out that the highest savings can be achieved by employing persuasive interfaces, i.e. interactive computing systems displaying enhanced consumption information in order to promote behavioural change. In particular, appliance-level consumption information, both indirect and real-time can boost user’s energy awareness, while self-learning mechanisms can be triggered by analytics and recommendations. We therefore decided to implement a prepaid billing system charging individual electrical appliances upon occurrence of consumption events. The system is currently based on the open hardware metering platform called OpenEnergyMonitor. Basically, consumption information is collected down to individual monitored devices by means of current transformers, enhanced with situational information such as time and duration, and sent to a cloud-based web service which manages the user’s credit. An Android app was implemented to manage the credit and to provide the user with a smart notification system, which alerts him upon specific events (e.g. credit is over).
We believe that this system can increase the resolution of the consumption feedback and boost energy awareness of users in Carinthia and Friuli, being already applicable in spite of the differences previously spotted. We are currently planning to assess the acceptance of the system and the deriving savings within a case study in actual households in the regions. The strategy has been discussed in the poster session of the next ACM Workshop on Embedded Systems for Energy-Efficient Buildings (BuildSys’13),
specifically in “Insert coin: turning the household into a prepaid billing system“.
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