Low-hanging fruits were not enough
Himmerland Boligforening is the biggest housing association in North Jutland, Denmark, with its 7,500 homes. For the past two and a half years, Energy and Climate Specialist Anders Kjeldsen has, among other things, had the task of helping meet the association's goal of reducing energy consumption by 30% by 2030.
“It quickly became clear that renovating the departments that were possible in the years up to 2030 was not enough to reach the goal. We needed much more and more frequent data to find out where we could optimize energy consumption," says Anders Kjeldsen, Energy and Climate Specialist at Himmerland Boligforening.
As in many other housing associations, Himmerland Boligforening's heating account supplier read the heat consumption in the homes in many departments once a year, and therefore could not continuously follow changes in consumption. Another major challenge was that the old meters only read the heat consumption in kilowatt hours - not the volume consumption or temperatures.
"With the old meters we had very little data, and it was difficult to find, for example, defective hot water exchangers. With the new Kamstrup meters, we have access to much more data, and we can quickly detect defects that would otherwise have led to large additional costs,” Anders Kjeldsen explains.
Using the remote reading system READy, Anders Kjeldsen has access to hourly readings from all meters and can sort the display by department, type, reading time, etc.
"I can pull out the information I need, and in five seconds I can see if there are installations with poor cooling," states Anders Kjeldsen, who adds:
"I've never had such a good overview of meters before."
Saving 135,000 EUR a year
Before the solution was implemented, Anders Kjeldsen estimated that about 1% of the heating installations were incorrectly installed or defective. It turned out to be a very accurate estimate. During the first months of access to the new data, he found 29 defective heating installations out of 2,900.
"Earlier, we were dependent on the residents contacting us, for example because the water was too hot, or the consumption was too high. We could not see that the heating installation was defective or incorrectly installed without access to the home. A single defective hot water exchanger can mean an extra expense of 2,500-10,000 EUR a year,” says Anders Kjeldsen.
Now the housing association automatically gets an alarm if something is wrong. This also applies to water consumption, where there is also money to be saved. Most people will probably notice if they can hear the toilet running, but often a toilet runs so little that it can neither be heard nor seen in the water surface. If the toilet runs just 10 liters per hour, it can mean an annual bill of 650 EUR more than otherwise.
"In the beginning I did not register how much the water alarms save us, but when I discovered that we have an average of two alarms a week, I also started counting them in the total. Overall, we have already found and corrected water and heating faults corresponding to an annual saving of around 135,000 EUR." says Anders Kjeldsen and continues.
"The savings on water and heat are not budgeted for, but it is an additional benefit that ensures our residents extra savings. In addition, the contract period runs over 9 years, but the installed meters have an expected life of 16 years, which allows us to extend the agreement and thus save a new tender process and meter replacement after 9 years. This is both sustainable for the environment and ensures our residents the lowest possible rent. "
Residents have access to consumption data
Remote reading of meters is part of the EU's Energy Efficiency Directive (EED), which requires consumers to have access to up-to-date consumption data, so that they have a better chance of changing behaviour and reducing energy consumption.
Himmerland Boligforening's solution therefore also includes the web portal 'My consumption', which BA Technologies has developed. Here, all residents who have had meters installed have access to the full overview of their consumption of electricity, water and heat. Thus, Himmerland Boligforening has ensured that it already lives up to the EED, which will come to full effect in 2027.
When a resident calls in and asks for their energy bill, the housing association's employees can now simply log on to 'My consumption' and see exactly when there has been a possible overconsumption. Whether the fault is due to a defective installation or the family’s teenager, it has become much easier for the resident to find the reason for the increased consumption.
Based on the current consumption readings, Himmerland Boligforening can also better determine the residents' on-account payments so that they correspond to their current water and energy consumption.
"With our new solution, we can provide our residents a better and faster service and ensure large energy savings. Thus, the solution contributes both to the green transition in general and to Himmerlands Boligforening's own sustainability policy," Anders Kjeldsen emphasises.