The connected home: a key challenge for the energy transition
The connected house project run by ENGIE, was developed jointly by its Ecometering subsidiary company and CRIGEN, the ENGIE Group research and operational expertise center dedicated to gas, new energy sources and emerging technologies. This research facility is emblematic of the Group’s expertise in innovation and energy efficiency.
What does the term «smart energy» actually mean?
Florent Bergeret, Product and Services Manager at Ecometering : «Smart energy» refers to a collection of systems that allow energy to be used intelligently in the simplest and least costly way possible, with the aim of reducing consumption, bills and environmental impact. Connected sensors and actuators installed in the home make it possible to measure energy consumption accurately and take direct action to optimize overall energy consumption.
Raphaël Lecomte,The Connected House Project Management Engineer at CRIGEN :
The overall goal of the «smart home» is to complement the manual adjustments we all make on a daily basis with automated adjustments: that's the principle behind the presence sensors that will turn room lighting on and off whenever we enter or leave it. The same principle can be applied to many different types of appliance so that energy in the home can be managed more effectively and efficiently. The contribution made by 'smart' technologies therefore boost energy efficiency, but it also improves comfort levels and safety for householders. Some types of appliance can go even further by learning the habits of households and adapting their operation accordingly.
Which products have been developed for the connected house by the ENGIE pilot project ?
Florent Bergeret: The first two products we have launched into the market are designed to meet the expectations of personal users.
As part of helping our customers to reduce their consumption of energy,we're offering them individually tailored advice on energy efficiency. This service is made possible by installing connected sensors to natural gas and electricity meters. These sensors use the Internet to transmit energy consumption data, which are then analyzed by special algorithms to generate individually tailored advice enabling customers to reduce consumption by improving the way they consume energy. Customers can use this service at any time from a smartphone or tablet device.
We've also launched the DolceVita Connected Thermostat to control heating systems, because these are the largest consumers of energy in any home. The Internet-connected thermostat allows customers to turn off the heating system using their smartphone, simultaneously making the process easier and saving energy...
What expertise has CRIGEN contributed to the development of these solutions ?
Raphaël Lecomte: CRIGEN was involved at many phases of both projects,from solution design through to live testing by
contributing its expertise of energy systems, building heating technologies, algorithm development and connected sensor design.
The resulting solutions were perfected under real-life conditions in the test environment of the connected home. CRIGEN and Ecometering worked together to create the connected home, specially in terms of preparing the specification for the equipment to be installed and the instrumentation required to use it. CRIGEN then installed all the test equipment and sensors required for the consumption sub-metering and thermal performance monitoring in the connected home. The data gathering and storage solution used to conduct tests under real-life conditions was also installed. Our aim was to create an environment representative of a traditional home in order to evaluate the operation and accuracy of the devices we installed, and their compatibility with different types of heating and meters. That has allowed us to identify the best operating scenarios. For example, last winter, we tested the impact of different heating control modes and roller shutters.
Why should we be so interested in Smart Home technologies ?
Raphaël Lecomte: Because they're the future! Some things, like remote control of blinds, have been around for a long time, but the falling cost of new technology is driving a domotics renaissance. The strong development of connected objects dramatically increases the opportunities available, and enables interaction between devices within the home.
Florent Bergeret: I'm in no doubt that the world of energy will change profoundly. Soon, all of us will be generating our own energy. ENGIE is using its skills in adaptation and innovation to invent the world of tomorrow and continue the process of delivering value to its customers.
So what can ENGIE contribute to the world of smart homes ?
Florent Bergeret: Working in the emerging field of smart energy enables the Group to transpose its energy efficiency expertise into the world of new technology. The connected home is a natural extension of the energy services we already offer, and requires us to imagine new solutions for the future.
Raphaël Lecomte: Our strength lies in the relationship of trust that ENGIE has successfully built with its customers. As part of locking in this relationship for the long-term future, it's important to bring forward new ideas and innovative services that meet their expectations. The Group's expertise in energy efficiency is a very real asset in developing these new services.