Integration into the IRIS monitoring system for detecting and monitoring energy consumption
Housing association Woonborg has built new residences in two locations in the Netherlands: 36 in Nieuw-Roden, part of the Drenthe municipality, and 32 in Haren, an area in the City of Groningen. When it came to energy efficiency, the association took into account not only the mandatory NZEB (nearly zero-energy building) standard, but also the ZOM (zero-on-the-meter) standard, which imposes stricter requirements. To help tenants reduce their energy consumption, the residences are equipped with LUXORliving, an energy-saving, KNX-based smart home system from Theben. In addition, the IRIS monitoring system from PureDomotica provides valuable insights into energy generation and consumption. The impact is clear: residents of the completed homes have an increased awareness of their energy consumption and have shown themselves to be more likely to stick within the energy limits.
Tenants of energy-neutral buildings are often hit with an expensive bill for their electricity consumption at the end of the year for various reasons – perhaps because they have installed a jacuzzi, or because they have been keeping the heating on at a steady 24 degrees with the windows open. The result is that they exceed the amount of energy allocated to them and the PV yield is not enough to cover their needs. Woonborg wanted to prevent exactly that and relies on ZOM homes, of which a total of 117 have been built over the last five years, with a concept based on heat pumps, ventilation systems, solar collectors and good insulation. In the process, the association also embarked on the hunt for an additional system designed to encourage lower, more conscious energy consumption by tenants.
In addition to their social rent charge, tenants of ZOM residences pay Woonborg an energy efficiency fee (or EPV, short for Energieprestatievergoeding in Dutch). This allows the association to recoup part of the investment in sustainable energy measures. To qualify for the EPV scheme, landlords need to guarantee that ZOM residences are energy-efficient.
Woonborg commissioned PureDomotica to monitor energy consumption and yield. Marco Weg, Project Development Manager at PureDomotica, explains: “For the EPV scheme, you need to measure the heat pump, ventilation system and hot water consumption levels, plus the net generation of the PV panels. This makes it possible to deduce whether the building is actually energy-neutral. We collect the data from energy meters in the homes and send it to the cloud.” An in-home display shows residents how much they have generated and consumed that day, how much energy they have left and how this compares to other days, months or years.
“Saving energy starts with insight and awareness”, says Woonborg project manager Jan van Goor. “The problem with ZOM in the past was that residents had no idea how much they were consuming, but they had a contract for a certain amount of energy. Then they would get a nasty surprise at the end of the year when they found out that they had to pay more. Now, however, they have a tool for monitoring and managing their packages, so they’ll always be aware of whether there might be more to pay at the end of the year.” But Woonborg was keen to go further. In its latest new-build project, it has opted for an additional system combining the LUXORliving smart home system with other KNX components from Theben. As van Goor says: “The goal is to save even more energy using the automatic changeover feature, but the system can also do much more than that”.
Marco Weg explains how automation has this effect: “We use high-quality sensors and actuators from Theben to control systems automatically – you can use them to switch lights on and off and make blinds go up and down. The system is based on a Theben KNX weather station that controls six homes simultaneously. If a smoke detector is activated, the ventilation switches off automatically, the blinds go up and the light in the escape route comes on. So you’re not just reducing your energy consumption – you’re also making your home more comfortable and safe”. The new building project, which PureDomotica, Theben and Woonborg are executing together, is registered as a pilot project that forms part of a European research project aiming to increase sustainability through simple home automation. According to Weg: “The data we collect will show that home automation makes sustainable homes even more sustainable”.
Weg knows from experience that choosing quality components pays off – which is exactly why he keeps coming back to Theben. “The quality of the components determines the quality of the measurements and the building technology. And that in turn makes or breaks the level of satisfaction that tenants and customers feel. Theben stands for quality, but also for partnership. By working together, we are learning from each other and continuously improving the concept. LUXORliving enables us to achieve maximum energy savings and comfort in social housing while keeping the bells and whistles to a minimum. It’s a breeze for older people to use too. The KNX components allow us to use whichever applications we like and create more advanced connections. We are delighted with the support and input we’ve received from Theben.” Woonborg feels the same way – so much so that the concept and collaboration are set to continue in future new-build projects.
For Jan van Goor, what’s “under the bonnet” is not that important: instead, what really matters is that the technology works reliably and delivers results. “We haven’t had any complaints about the systems at all so far. The technology is working, but the residents are not aware of it. They no longer use old-fashioned click switches and are instead using modern tactile sensors. The monitoring facility has raised awareness of energy usage: there are hardly any instances of consumption exceeding generation and everyone is happy to pay the EPV.” PureDomotica keeps an eye out for any obvious excess consumption and acts as a service desk for Woonborg in the event that any issues with the systems do arise. “Monitoring the installations means that we can quickly find out what is going wrong, who needs to be involved and which components the installers need to bring with them. This also avoids unnecessary journeys by Woonborg vehicles. 50% of issues can now be resolved quickly and effectively with data analysis and a single phone call. We are also in a better position to plan maintenance, which reduces repair costs”, van Goor points out. The bottom line is that these systems save the housing association a lot of money, which it can then invest back in the automation concept.
PureDomotica has now been commissioned to build another 82 residences on the basis of the same concept. According to Marco Weg: “We are already one step ahead. In this project, we will also be controlling the temperature in each zone using the temperature sensors in the iON buttons from Theben. Another new feature is that we can now read errors and deviations in the heat pump system directly. This means even better management of emergencies, maintenance and administrative aspects”.
Power supply: PS 160 mA T KNX