Save energy with a limited individual effort

Leverage smart technologies to ignite change and save up to 14.8% power in energy-intensive households and over 20% in primary schools, by encouraging responsible behaviors without upsetting individual habits: this is the main outcome of the enCOMPASS project, funded by the EU Commission under the Horizon 2020 program. The project brought together 14 European partners, including Paradox Engineering, with the supervision of Politecnico di Milano.

Aimed at promoting sustainable lifestyles and effective energy efficiency policies, the project led to the development of a smart technology platform and some friendly digital tools, including a mobile app, to provide users the opportunity to monitor power consumption at home, at school or in the office, taking advantage of customized suggestions to save energy while retaining personal comfort levels.

The enCOMPASS platform includes smart energy or gas meters, and a network of smart home sensors to detect human presence and measure key parameters such as temperature or humidity. Energy data are collected and processed, then offered to users in a simple and accessible way through the enCOMPASS mobile app. Each stakeholder (family member, building and office manager, school manager, public officer) can have a detailed and timely view of energy consumption levels, and receive recommendations to reduce environmental impact. Recommendations are based on dedicated algorithms that automatically recognize different power consumption sources (heating system, water boiler, fridge, washing machine, etc.) and elaborate suggestions upon user profile, adjusting best-fitting, energy-efficient actions.

Two-year pilot projects were conducted in Gambarogno (Switzerland), Hassfurt (Germany) and Salonicco (Greece), and demonstrated the effectiveness of the enCOMPASS platform and tools, particularly when energy consumption or user motivation is high. About 70 households, one primary school and a municipal building were engaged in Switzerland. In Germany the project involved 90 households, two primary schools and a public building, while 100 households, one high school, two business buildings and a library were monitored in Greece.

It was quite easy to achieve good results in energy-intensive households, where average power savings was around 11%. Greece participants ranked first, cutting energy consumption for 14.8%. Once understanding the benefits of customized recommendations, families started to apply them regularly and turned them into routine, thus generating tangible effects on energy consumption patterns.

Energy-savvy households got less astounding results, as they were already practicing efficient behaviors. In these cases, a full building renovation or the replacement of existing heating systems and apparels would be required to significantly reduce power consumption.

Activation and motivation were really high in primary schools. Teachers were supported with dedicated educational materials and could use the FUNERGY card game, both developed by the enCOMPASS team. The combined use of smart technologies and a gamification approach favored pupils’ interest and perseverance, bringing average energy saving up to 16%. Wunsidel primary school in Germany succeeded in cutting power consumption for 20.1%.

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