Christian Deilmann, Co-founder and Chief Product Officer at tado° outlines the measures needed to meet Europe’s and the UK’s climate targets. Heating and cooling in buildings and industry accounts for half of the energy consumption, and governments across Europe and the UK have begun to recognise the scale of this challenge and opportunity through financial incentives and legislation to make homes greener. A rapid acceleration of energy-efficient measures and a comprehensive digital energy transition are required in 2021 and beyond.
Energy efficiency, the Green Deal and Climate Change Act
The European Green Deal and the UK’s Climate Change Act – Europe’s and the UK’s plan to go carbon neutral by 2050 – is calling for the doubling of the number of energy-efficient renovations in homes. This would mean 35m homes being renovated to a higher energy-efficiency standard by 2030 – but this still leaves the vast majority of the 200m+ homes as energy inefficient. One of the key challenges is the high cost of purchasing and retrofitting promoted measures like insulation, heat pumps, and solar panels. We need to make sure that we start with the low-hanging fruit which in this case is smart heating and cooling controls. A smart thermostat typically costs under £200 with a payback of one or two years through the energy saved. No other energy-efficiency measure in homes comes close to the energy efficiency impact, low cost, easy installation, and fast energy-savings return. Smart thermostats are part of various country-specific laws and subsidy programs but more consideration is needed in the huge and impactful European Green Deal and Climate Change Act.
Electrification of heat and grid integration
Heat pumps are already being installed as standard in large parts of new European and UK buildings and homes. This is exactly the right way to go. Heat pumps have the capability to only consume a fraction of primary energy compared to what gas or oil heating systems need. The connectivity of heat pumps and air conditioning systems in combination with intelligent algorithms can result in a paradigm shift. Smarter heating and cooling will revolutionise the way energy is consumed and provide a valuable source of flexibility for regional and national grids. Europe and the UK need a fully integrated, interconnected and digitised energy market. This flexibility provided to the energy grid paves the way for more renewable energy without the need for backup power plants. The consumption will then react to when the sun shines or the wind blows without affecting comfort inside buildings. This means rolling out demand response solutions and agile tariffs.
Remote diagnostics to reduce physical repair visits
Another part of digitisation is reducing repair and maintenance efforts by half. By remotely monitoring the health and performance of heating and cooling systems, energy utilities and repair service providers are able to increase operational efficiency. Rather than wait for a boiler to break down, remote monitoring can inform the user or energy supplier of the issue before it fully materialises. Incidents are minimised and when an engineer does need to do a repair, he/she already knows what the issue is and what parts are required. This reduces the need to visit the home twice – first to identify the issue, second to come back with the right spare parts for the actual repair. Remote diagnostics reduces costs, cuts transport emissions, and minimises unnecessary contact in the current COVID-19 situation.
An open platform which works across any system from any manufacturer
In order to achieve the wide-scale benefits of digitising the heating and cooling sector, a solution which works for all households independent of the brand or type of heating system is the key. tado° has partners who provide tens of millions of customers across Europe and the UK with energy and who also repair millions of heating systems every year. There is naturally a wide variety of heating systems from hundreds of manufacturers across large customer bases. With a cross-manufacturer compatible tado° solution, we tackle exactly this challenge with the goal that our partners have the chance to offer all of their customers the same connectivity solution and a uniform smartphone application. Moreover, this allows their service centres to manage all of their customers’ heating systems in one remote diagnostics tool, and all aggregated systems into one network of demand response load.