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- All for Zero! How ista makes saving energy zero complicated
People can only consciously save energy and reduce their CO2 emissions if they are aware of their consumption. In this year’s progress report, ista shows how residents play their part in reducing CO2 emissions to net zero in the building sector and which products and services help them to do so.
Felix Maas helped develop the new product EcoTrend and reveals what's behind it.
“Demand for this product has been just huge since the beginning of the year,” says Felix Maas. The 33-year-old is the product manager responsible at ista for EcoTrend. This ista product provides building owners and their residents with monthly information about their heating energy and hot water consumption. This is what the amendment to the Heating Cost Ordinance requires from 1 January 2022 wherever remote-readable metering technology is already installed. In ista’s case, that is two million out of a total of five million units. In the past months, EcoTrend has already been ordered over one million of these units.
The human factor in climate protection
The aim of the new ordinance is to encourage consumers to act in a climate-friendly manner. EcoTrend creates clear incentives to do this, Maas explains: “Our aim is to raise people’s awareness of their own consumption behaviour through transparency. People should realise what they can achieve as individuals.” This is also the central idea behind ista’s latest progress report entitled “All for Zero”: we all can make a contribution in our daily lives to a CO2-free future.
Therefore, EcoTrend supplements the latest consumption information with comparisons with the previous year and with reference users. It also gives an estimate of the expected costs, calculated on the basis of the last bill: an additional motivation for people to save energy and, at the same time, reduce their own CO2 emissions.
ista already came up with the idea of creating incentives for reducing consumption by providing regular information years ago, Felix Maas recalls. He himself joined the company in 2008. Parallel to a dual-study programme, he did an apprenticeship in product marketing. “Back then, we were already working on how to visualise monthly consumption,” he says. However, for a long time, demand from customers was poor. People’s awareness of the need to use resources sparingly had already increased noticeably in the face of rapidly rising energy prices, so all that was needed recently was a little nudge from outside, Maas explains.
Consumption check by app
This nudge has now come from the government. With the amendment to the Heating Cost Ordinance, the government has transposed the European Energy Efficiency Directive into German law. Building owners are therefore now confronted with a large number of new obligations. EcoTrend has been specially developed to make this change as easy as possible, says Felix Maas: “It goes without saying that it is important for our customers that we provide them with a product that enables them to fully comply with the legal requirements.” With ‘EcoTrend comfort’, customers receive their consumption information via a web portal or various digital interfaces. If they wish, the information can then be sent directly to the residents via app or e-mail. ista has set up a technical service hotline, which also answers questions about the monthly consumption information. “This is the first time we have been in direct contact with residents,” says Felix Maas. In conversations with residents in the past weeks, he has seen for himself that regular information has increased people’s awareness of their personal energy consumption:
“One tenant asked how we could possibly get such high consumption figures for the previous month. She had been away most of the time. Of course, there may be many different reasons for this. Maybe the heating was not switched off, maybe a valve needs checking. The crucial thing for me is that if she had just got an annual bill, she would not have noticed that particular month’s consumption at all and would not have asked herself if something was wrong.”
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New incentives in future
The provision of monthly consumption data has involved a huge effort on ista’s part, Maas adds: “We are having to deal with a whole new information cycle here. In the past, we had to determine a cut-off figure once a year; now we have to deliver final consumption figures once a month. This puts our metering technology and all processes to the ultimate test.” However, he feels that ista has so far managed this 180-degree turnabout very well.
Maas can well imagine expanding EcoTrend in future to include additional incentives to use energy sparingly. "We have now laid a foundation on which we will build," he says. "This product will certainly change continuously in the next five to ten years." For example, an even shorter information cycle would be perfectly conceivable, for example with data updated every day - if legally possible – or offerings enabling people to set themselves personal challenges, such as their own energy-saving goals, and track their achievement, or compare themselves even better with other users.
The app already offers practical energy-saving tips for daily life: don’t dry your washing on the radiators. Shower instead of taking a bath. Turn the heating off while you have the windows open to let fresh air in. Many little things can add up to a great effect when it comes to achieving the net-zero goal. “And with EcoTrend we are making it zero complicated for people to make a personal contribution to climate protection,” says Felix Maas.