How do we alter consumers’ energy habits?

Date: 19 February 2018

20 council flats in the Danish city of Aarhus are a living lab for a new EU project which will examine how consumers may wilingly alter their energy habits in order to utilise green electricity and heat and gain economic profit.

20 council flats in Aarhus are a living lab for a new EU project.
All though, more and more electricity is produced by solar and wind power, the energy not optimally utilised. The challenge lies in the way electricity and heat is consumed today. Peak loads occur in the energy production, which has a negative effect on the environment because it requires a temporary replacement in energy supply from renewable energy sources to coal and oil.

If the energy consumption were to adapt to the production, great environmental profit could be gained from it.

A new EU research project will examine the measures needed for people to willingly postpone their consumption of electricity and heat to another time in the day, where the electricity in their sockets is green.

The project, which has been entitled ‘Respond’, has achieved EU funding of EUR 3 million.

The project’s Danish partners are presented by Aura Counselling (Aura Rådgivning), the housing association Alboa, Aalborg Universitet (Danish Building Research Institute, SBi) and Develco Products. Besides Denmark, researchers and experts in data and human behaviour from the countries of Spain, Ireland, the Czech Republic and Serbia are also involved in the project.

Uniform consumption patterns cause peak loads
Danes’ energy consumption more or less follows the same pattern; from the light is switched on in the morning and many take a shower to the consumption of television or Netflix in the evening before bed.

Because of this, there is basis for an examination of possible initiatives to influence everyday energy habits and shift a part of the consumption away from peak loads.

“Offhand, the prospect of changing one’s behavioral pattern significantly during busy weekdays may seem difficult but changing our routines for when we wash clothes, prepare meals or start the dishwasher is perhaps more realistic. It is not entirely unrealistic to imagine such a change – especially not if economic gain can be made from it”, says energy consultant Lisbet Stryhn Rasmussen from Aura Counselling.

Three test environments
In connection to the project, three living test environments have been established. The twenty council flats from the housing association Alboa in Aarhus is one of them.

The twenty council flats will deliver consumption data to the project. Each flat has been installed with intelligent electricity and heat meters as well as smart thermostats. Though an app, residents can monitor their consumption and receive information about, for instance, humidity and the indoor climate.

“It will be exciting to see how the residents experience the installed products as assistance in their everyday lives. We [Alboa] are also involved in this project in order to achieve the best possible utilisation of the department’s own production of solar power as it may cause economic gain, which will benefit the residents. I look forward to following the families closely during the course of this project”, says Niels Munthe, the Energy Manager at Alboa.

Besides the twenty council flats in Aarhus, tests will also be carried out in a co-operative society on the Aran Islands in Ireland and in a private apartment complex in Madrid, Spain.

Source: Energy Supply