Smart home technologies can help to stop global warming

A German research project explores how smart homes can contribute to the fight against global warming.

Climate protection is one of the most important issues of our time. Everyone must do their part to stop global warming. A research project in Germany now shows how smart home technologies can help reduce CO2 emissions. As everyone who heats their home efficiently helps to protect the environment, it is all the more important that smart heating solutions are affordable and easy to use and install.

Around 805 million tonnes of greenhouse gases were released in Germany in 2019. Although the number fell by 80 million tonnes last year, this is largely a one-off side effect of the Covid-19 pandemic. According to experts, the temporary reduction in flights, consumption and traffic won’t have a significant long-lasting effect which makes it all the more important to find ways and means for long-term solutions. A current research project in Germany shows that smart home technologies can play an important role as heating homes smartly can save a lot of energy.

Since 2018, 15 partners from the housing and other industries have been working hand in hand with scientists on a research project called BaltBest. The result of the project is expected to make an important contribution to the development of strategies in the field of climate protection and digitisation in the housing industry. In addition to improved building technology, the behaviour of homeowners and tenants is also expected to help reducing CO2 emissions and the waste of fuel.

First results show what smart heating solutions can do

The first results already show that the behaviour of property owners and tenants can indeed reduce energy consumption significantly. Smart home technologies are playing an important role, as these help users to understand, check and control their energy usage. Since December 2018, a total of 100 apartment buildings have been equipped with a wireless infrastructure to measure the energy consumption of the participants over three heating seasons. Surveys on heating behaviour are being conducted and analysed – as well as data from 3.9 million telegrams. The interim results already show that by monitoring the systems and by users adjusting their behaviour, the CO2 emissions can be reduced significantly.

In Germany, millions can already control their smart home via their router

It is still unclear how quickly and extensively such smart home technologies can be set up for older heating systems. However, even older properties can already be heated smartly today. In Germany, many different smart heating solutions are already available which are affordable and easy to implement. The vast majority of all households use either a FRITZ!Box router from the Berlin-based company AVM, or gateways from Deutsche Telekom that support not only Wi-Fi, but also the ULE standard (Ultra-low energy). These customers can use their router as a smart home hub to control their smart home appliances, including smart radiator controllers.

The wireless radiator controllers can be integrated into the home network via the router or gateway at the push of a button. The room temperature can then be smartly controlled – even when the user is out and about thanks to smart home apps and remote access.

“It is all the more important that internet service providers offer their customers gateways that do not only support Wi-Fi, but also other wireless standards such as ULE,” said Ulrich Grote, chairman of the ULE Alliance. “The BaltBest research project is proving once more that smart home solutions are not just gimmicks for tech enthusiasts, it’s quite the opposite. Smart solutions can help everyone to reduce heating and energy costs, which ultimately also protects the environment. However, to make a real difference and to reduce greenhouse gases significantly, everyone must be able to afford smart heating solutions.”

Other smart home components also help to protect the environment

Internet service providers and manufacturers of gateways who integrate wireless standards such as ULE in their devices allow their users to set up a smart home without having to invest in a dedicated smart home hub. Routers and gateways that support ULE can also be used to control energy-sapping appliances in millions of households. That includes smart lighting, but also switchable sockets with which household appliances and other products can be switched on and off as required. This way, a lot of energy could be saved even before the next heating season starts.

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