How data visibility is improving energy efficiency and awareness

How Baston Wonen, a housing association in the Netherlands, implemented innovative smart metering solution to improve the lives and energy usage of its residents.
Published: Tue 07 Aug 2018

With more energy efficient buildings becoming important, residential associations have increasing pressure to reduce consumption.

In addition to this, operations and service are under scrutiny from a more engaged and aware consumer base.

The Baston Wonen housing association, an organisation with a mission to provide affordable housing, needed to upgrade its services to address these key issues across five apartment blocks in the city of Zevenaar in the Netherlands’ Gelderland province.

To do so, Baston Wonen chose to replace its mechanical meters with Kamstrup’s smart heat meters and READy fixed network remote reading solution, all of which enabled automatic, more accurate and informative data collection.

By giving the data to end-users, buildings and utilities, greater awareness, energy efficiency and transparency can be gained.

Improving energy metering and operations

Previously, Baston Wonen’s metering solution was largely inefficient. In addition to the need for physical meter readings, which would typically take up to five days across the apartment blocks, managing changing tenants was challenging.

Furthermore, invoicing and providing visibility for these tenants was out of Baston Wonen’s control. With their consumption calculations only possible at the end of the fiscal year, Albert Stöcker, Technical Advisor at Baston Wonen and the person who manages their network, explains the difficulties: “During the year when tenants would challenge a bill (e.g. when moving out) it would often take a long time to get an answer from the previous supplier as they would have to wait until the end of the fiscal year. Then when the bill was issued and questions about it were raised, Baston Wonen was fully dependent on the data and the calculations supplied by their previous supplier.”

Between the issues with visibility, accuracy, operational efficiency and consumption, Baston Wonen found itself unable to fulfill its mission to provide affordable housing, especially with its focus on people with lower incomes.

At this point, Baston Wonen began to work with Kamstrup to turn around its metering solution and create a more open and efficient system.

Automatic data collection

Kamstrup implemented a holistic solution to achieve Baston Wonen's aims, comprising of wireless heat meters installed in each apartment, main heat and electricity meters in the apartment blocks’ boiler rooms and a data concentrator on the roof of one of the buildings.

With this technology in place, Baston Wonen has greater control and data accuracy to work with in its billing and invoicing, and has improved billing processes significantly.

Stöcker says: “It is possible to read all of the meters in a matter of minutes. The real-time data gives us everything we need to know. If one of our tenants has a question or problem, we can give them an answer within 24 hours because we have direct access to the information. Or, if someone is moving out, we can have the invoice ready, more or less, on the same day,”

Furthermore, the READy Manager remote reading software provides Stöcker with greater amounts of data at a much more granular level. With this in hand, Baston Wonen can see not only how its residents are consuming energy, but how the network itself is performing, creating the opportunity and knowledge to run its own network and usage more efficiently.

A key reason for choosing Kamstrup was its flexibility arrangements for choosing a billing-responsible party, Stöcker explains: “As a customer you can choose to do it yourself or make use of an independent supplier.”

Digitising energy consumption

Kamstrup also brought an opportunity for Baston Wonen to leverage another digital technology - online services.

As observed by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) in its report ‘Customer engagement in an era of energy transformation’, customers increasingly expect access to effective and efficient digital platforms when interacting with service providers.

In line with this, Kamstrup created and distributed its eButler to Baston Wonen and its residents. The solution, also available on smartphones, allows residents to easily see how much energy they are consuming every hour, and thus engage more with energy efficiency so as to save money on their bills.

Designed to be end-user facing, eButler offers residents an intuitive, simple analysis of their energy usage with data visualisation such as graphs, rather than figures and tables.