Watt's mission to shape the Danish energy market with innovative, technological solutions for the benefit of the green transition is now taking important new steps at national level. The two-year collaboration with Aalborg Utility in North Jutland has now reached new milestones in its efforts to create greater energy awareness and energy savings in Aalborg's district heating.
Just over two years ago, Watts entered into a partnership with Aalborg Utility. This was done in an effort to create a better user solution for the utility's 110,000 district heating customers and to optimise and streamline the company's overall district heating supply. As Aalborg Forsyning had just completed a complete replacement of the old, manually read heat meters with digital remote meters, it was an obvious time to further optimise the system.
Better use of district heating, greater customer insight into energy consumption and a desire to bridge to a more sustainable solution were the absolute key points in Aalborg Utility's choice of Watt's app as the preferred customer portal. The choice was also justified by the fact that Watts would provide a solution that could bring together all the utility's energy supplies in one unified app in the long term.
Behind the choice was also a desire at Aalborg Utility to help shape the design of the app, so it could best be adapted to district heating. A market Watts Energy Assistant had not previously operated in practice, although the basic idea of the app has always been that it should be able to support all types of supply - from electricity, heat and water.
The close cooperation between Watts and Aalborg Utility has been crucial for the design and integration of the heat supply in the app. In theory, the app's basic design and functionality were already created to embrace the heating supply area, but the collaboration with Aalborg Utility created the crucial ground for the energy assistant to be launched in practice.
The integration of the heat supply in the app has therefore been a direct result of a successful combination of Watt's innovative tool and Aalborg Supply's industry-specific know-how, as Aalborg Supply's customer manager, Lars Jensen, puts it:
- Working with Watts has been a new and exciting way to develop solutions. We rely primarily on traditional suppliers of, for example, IT solutions, but in this case it is instead a partnership with other multi-suppliers. Watts is of course the driving and developing party, but I feel we have greatly contributed to and influenced the functionality of the app.
'A huge success' was Aalborg Utility's customer manager, Lars Jensen's own words to Teknik & Miljø, when he already last year described the first overall impressions of the app's deployment in the North Jutland market. New app features are already in the pipeline, but the app's current functions have already branched out positively into almost every conceivable aspect of heating supply.
From Watt's side, there are also only words of praise about the successful collaboration. Watts project manager Jon Jagd also expresses satisfaction with the fact that Watts has proven to have a raison d'être as a digital problem solver and intelligent intermediary in several different stages of the Danish energy sector:
- Aalborg Utility is working to optimise its district heating network and make it more sustainable. This is being done mainly through better contact and more information for customers. And this is where we have been able to build a bridge between the supply and the user. Watts was set up to create insight and awareness about energy consumption, but also to create motivation to take proactive measures for climate and savings. I think we have done a good job as an innovative, energy-conscious mediator between Aalborg Utility and their heating consumers, says project manager Jon Jagd.
One of Watt's main motivations is to create greater energy awareness among Danish citizens. So far, the innovative digital tool has provided increased insight into the electricity consumption of the more than 160,000 current users of the app.
With the implementation of the platform in heating supply, the overall goal has remained the same: to give the now 43,000 additional North Jutland district heating customers with remote meters a tool to gain greater insight into their respective heat consumption and thereby create an awareness that may lead to concrete savings in everyday life for the benefit of both the climate and the users' finances.
After its complete roll-out to heating consumers in Aalborg, the app has proven to be as effective a tool for giving customers insight into their heating consumption as it has been for electricity consumption.
Via the app, Aalborg Utility's customers have been able to get an instant overview of district heating consumption on their mobile phones. A previously unheard of feature that has generated much greater awareness of their own consumption, as customers have now been able to read previously inaccessible data about their everyday consumption. According to Lars Jensen, customer response has been extremely positive:
- We've had positive feedback from customers who have just wanted to understand their consumption better. It gives customers peace of mind to be able to monitor consumption on an ongoing basis, and they now have the opportunity to detect changes in consumption in good time, for example due to a fault in the installation. Customers have asked for an easier consumption overviewand they have got it.
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It is not only Aalborg Utility's customers who have been given intelligent tools to create a more efficient and intelligent heat consumption. The app users' increased awareness and smarter management of energy consumption also benefits Aalborg Utility and the climate. Better use of heat by the end user also means less waste in the large supply network, which has ultimately resulted in a reduction in heat loss.
Aalborg Utility has taken further steps to reduce heat loss through better and more optimal heat utilisation. The utility has reorganised its heat billing to be much more variable based. One of the reasons they are doing this is that customers are now better placed to make greater savings through informed choices via the tools in the app.
This is in line with the company's desire to create a more intelligent and sustainable district heating supply, where better heat utilisation is one of the key factors. And it is here that the implementation of Watt's Energy Assistant has been the innovative tool that has tied the threads together. Lars Jensen elaborates:
- Watts is helping to raise awareness of district heating consumption among customers. For the vast majority of customers, district heating is just something that is, and it's hard to relate to the fact that you, as a customer, can do something to make better use of it. Watts can help to make this visible so that customers can start to understand heat better.
The next step in the process towards even greater energy awareness and savings is the 'heat recovery' app extension. According to project manager Jon Jagd, it is on its way and will in particular give heat consumers a continuous insight into how well they are using the heat they have. It thus taps directly into the main year of Aalborg Utility's work to make the heat supply more efficient and optimised through, among other things, better heat utilisation. Aalborg Utility's customer manager Lars Jensen adds:
- We are convinced that customers' use of the app will change their behaviour and thus have a positive impact on, for example, heat loss in the district heating network. This is something we are constantly working to optimise with various initiatives. Customer awareness of heat utilisation - that is, the ability to cool district heating water and thus get the energy used in the home - is a very important factor in minimising heat loss in the network and thus optimising the supply network to benefit the green transition. Therefore, we are very much looking forward to Watts being able to show customers this in a good and understandable way.
In the further development of the energy assistant in the heating supply area, Watts and Aalborg Utility are also working on creating an advisory function in the app. Certain external factors can create large fluctuations in heating consumption over the year, and the plan is to launch a function that will provide consumers with direct insight and explanations for periods of particularly high consumption. Consumption that is not created by careless overconsumption, but by external factors. Instead of customers simply being told that they have gone over budget, the aim is to be able to provide a temperature and weather-corrected breakdown of actual consumption against budget.
It is important to both Watts and Aalborg Utility to be able to notify customers of these special circumstances in order to provide consumers with the greatest possible transparency in consumption and the various fluctuations.
This function should also be able to act as a kind of energy advisor, telling you whether your home could be energy-optimised. Jon Jagd elaborates:
- For example, we can see that extra heat is used in a particular household when the wind is from the north-east. This could be an indicator that the household's climate screen is not working optimally. We could then advise them that better insulation in the respective locations could reduce the extra costs to the household in this respect. In other words, we would eventually be able to identify where certain homes are particularly vulnerable to the weather and where intelligent energy-saving improvements could be made.
Watts and Aalborg Utility's successful cooperation in the field of heat supply has created new rings in the water. Literally. The parties are now in full swing to integrate Aalborg Utility's customers' water consumption on the app, as the utility has begun work to digitise consumers by replacing over 24,000 water meters by 2023.
Again, the plan is for Watt's Energy Assistant to act as a digital tool for customers to motivate them to make greater savings for themselves and the climate in an intelligent and user-friendly way. But in addition, the app will also include important alarm functions and notifications that users can greatly benefit from.
One of the most important factors of the app extension in the water supply area will be the notification part. Watt's energy assistant will not only monitor the water consumption of the North Jutland customers, it will also alert them about consumption and errors.
One of the main features is the generation of a personal alarm notification when consumption exceeds a certain level. The customer is given the option to request notification via the app if the household's consumption either exceeds a set threshold or a relative overrun in relation to the Watts budget. or if there has been no break in consumption for a set period of time. This not only contributes to a sense of oversight and control for the customer, but also creates the basis for immediate action on any consumption changes or irregularities.
Just as in the heat supply area, the cooperation between Watts and Aalborg Utility is therefore expected to mobilise the energy assistant to become an important tool in the water supply area as well.
Alongside Aalborg Forsyning, Watts has also entered into an agreement and cooperation with the North Zealand water supply company Novafos. Here, the integration of the app is also in full swing.
Novafos, like Aalborg Utility, has been through a major replacement of customers' water meters, so that the supply's 7 municipalities from September this year will be fully covered by remote meters.
From this year, all Novafos customers will therefore be able to use the app's smart tools and functions to gain greater insight and create savings for their benefit, the environment and Novafos' supply.