UK-based Onzo’s Smart Energy Kit has been chosen as the only energy display to be rolled out to households in Amsterdam. Under the Sustainable Neighbourhood project, 500 homes in the North West district of the Dutch capital have been equipped with Echelon’s smart meters. Of these, 50 have also been given Onzo’s Smart Energy Kit as part of a six month trial to find out how much energy home owners can save when given easy-to-understand information about their electricity consumption.
Onzo launched the Smart Energy Kit in the UK in 2010. It comprises a sensor, in-home display and personalised website. For the Amsterdam Project, Onzo is using a low-cost sensor that connects with the Echelon smart meters given to residents. Information about a household’s electricity usage appears in the display in real time and the data can be uploaded to the website where consumers can receive energy saving tips and track their energy usage.
There has also been an online campaign (of which the video below is a part) to raise awareness of the Smart Energy Kit and there will be neighbourhood days out to give participants tips on energy saving.
Students of the University of Amsterdam will be testing the effectiveness of the smart meter and Smart Energy Kit in reducing energy usage, but apparently initial feedback has been positive, with a call for an increase in energy saving targets to make the experience more challenging.
The Sustainable Neighbourhood project is one of several projects in the Amsterdam Smart City initiative, launched in 2009. It brings together government, businesses and residents to develop and test smart projects that will save energy in the future.
What I like about Onzo’s solution is that the product is attractive and the company seems to be very consumer focused. It talks about providing a ‘comprehensive and engaging set of customer touch points’ for example.
It’s certainly what’s needed. If smart meters and smart grids are going to fulfil their potential, and arguably there’s an awful lot depending on them doing so, then consumers need to be on side. Providing a display is not enough – the device has to be attractive, its use engaging and all backed up by plenty of support to help consumers reap the benefits that smart grids will (eventually) bring.
Hopefully we will see similar devices in the UK. Only last week the government set out its final plan for the installation of 53 million smart meters in 30 million homes. It’s much as previously expected, although suggestions that the process may be speeded up have not proved accurate. There will be a five-year rollout starting in 2014.