Consumers are notoriously difficult to engage when it comes to energy and a host of platforms are available, normally via utilities, which enable them to receive data on their consumption and energy saving information.
But there is always room for another. So far there isn’t one specifically focusing on energy efficiency and responding to what they say is a specific demand for such information from utilities looking for ways to connect with their customers, Belgian researchers have set in motion the development of the Energy2Consumer (E2C) platform.
In partnership with Belgian IT service provider Ordina, the researchers from EnergyVille, the country’s joint energy research organization, will commercialize the platform with utilities for their customers.
Energy efficiency in Belgium
Kristel Boonen, business developer of the Smart Energy and Built Environment unit at VITO (one of the EnergyVille partner organizations) explains that in Belgium there has been a strong energy efficiency drive in cities and municipalities in their own buildings but so far little focus on the residential sector. But this is changing with research activities to determine the residential potential and E2C is aimed to fill this gap.
Miss Boonen says E2C is based on three USPs:
- A solid scientifically proven base of data on which energy efficiency savings can be predicted, bringing confidence to the end user
- User friendly dashboard, in which information is presented on a segmented basis according to status of the user, i.e. a young couple planning the purchase of their first dwelling have different needs and (digital) user behaviour than parents with teenage children, whose needs are again different from retiring home owners, etc.
- The platform will be kept updated with changing legislation, incentives, technologies and home changes made, etc.
“E2C will be an ‘advisor’ where home owners and renters can insert some data and be given some suggested actions they can take to improve energy efficiency,” says Miss Boonen. “For example it may suggest replacing an appliance or investing in solar PV, and will provide estimated energy cost reductions for those investments.”
E2C under development
E2C has undergone proof of concept internally within VITO, but the final ‘look and feel’ and branding for the consumer will depend on the utilities that take it up.
Miss Boonen says that initially the focus is on Belgium and this will be followed by the Netherlands, where Ordina has its head office. But the intention is to take the platform Europe-wide, adapting the language and other elements such as legislation and incentives to the particular country.
“It will depend on the electricity providers that take it up,” she says. “We are speaking to all the providers in Belgium and expect to sign off and launch E2C towards the end of the year.”
Utility use will be via a licensing agreement.
Miss Boonen sees multiple level efforts to encourage consumers to use the platform, ranging from invitations and information in bills and other utility communications to social media campaigns.
“We see E2C as fully integrating the different aspects of energy efficiency in residential dwellings and as such it fills a void.”