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Europeans's energy use: A realistic scenario for better lifestyles

"We need to consider how to incentivise Europeans to change their patterns of energy use as well as to ensure they are fairly informed on the flexible pricing conditions”, said APPLiA’s Smart Living and Competitiveness Policy Specialist, Lenka Jančová during the 23rd IEEE Symposium on International Symposium on Consumer Technologies on 20 June 2019. 

The technological evolution of home appliances and the political will to grant Europeans with more power in shaping the energy market are an encouraging starting point for the next EU mandate. Manufacturers are developing energy-smart fridges, air conditioners and washing machines that are able to respond to time-varying electricity prices, resulting in energy bill savings due to lower tariffs at low peak to citizens. On its side, in the last 5 years, the European Commission has started working on new legislative set of rules that has the potential to incentivise new business models.

“Smart appliances provide flexibility potential, but how much of this potential is activated depends on consumers’ behaviour. To be supportive in this transition, we need to consider how to incentivise them to change their patterns of energy use as well as to ensure they are fairly informed on the flexible pricing conditions”, said APPLiA’s Smart Living and Competitiveness Policy Specialist, Lenka Jančová during the 23rd IEEE Symposium on International Symposium on Consumer Technologies on 20 June 2019. The forum for innovative research in all technology areas of consumer electronics took place in Ancona, Italy.

Lenka Jančová further explained that when a home energy manager receives a signal from the grid, it might adapt the consumption of appliances at home: for example, during the peak time, it can ask the dishwasher to postpone a cycle. The shift in energy will allow dishwashers for instance to postpone its launch with up to 19 hours, identifying when energy is cheapest and washing the dishes during the night for instance or giving users the possibility to set a deadline of when the programme must be finished. When it comes to heating and cooling, however, the comfort of people, as well as safety concerns for different buildings might be a limiting factor to the overall flexibility. To materialise the above-mentioned potential, interoperability has to be ensured. That’s where the Smart Appliances REFerence ontology (SAREF), a common language that can be used by different home appliances to communicate with home energy manager, plays a key role to unlock this potential.

Europeans will play a vital role in this transformation through adapting their power demand. Decentralisation, decarbonisation and digitalisation are the main trends transforming the energy system in Europe and beyond, allowing consumers to be in charge of the way they use energy. Nevertheless, setting the right conditions for households as well as their implementation remains a part of the EU’s to-do-list.