How can new technologies support the involvement of building owners and users in energy planning processes? And, which technologies for energy monitoring are available on the market and bring significant change in energy consumption patterns?

The AREA 21 project partners have worked to address these questions to inform the development of their own ICT energy planning tools. Together partners have identified and analyzed a series of ICT tool good practices for energy monitoring and energy planning in their respective regions. The studied best practices have been compiled by Tampere University of Applied Sciences in an “ICT tools in energy planning – Good Practice Report” (PDF). The Report illustrates lessons learnt from previous research on energy monitoring as well as key aspects of the tools studied.

The research confirmed that many different kinds of energy related ICT tools already exist on the market and that the majority have been developed or updated in recent years.. Despite recent development in the tool production, it was discovered that few tools have been designed primarily for energy planning purposes. At the same time, there exist many different types of advanced ICT tools that monitor and report energy usage, and therefore can be used as a supplementary basis for energy planning.

The research further revealed that user engagement and usability are two important aspects, which should be taken into account when developing new ICT tools for energy monitoring and planning. Evidence exists that energy monitoring tools can reduce energy consumption, the effect, however, is short term if the tools do not maintain energy user engagement. This necessitates the integration in the tools of features that encourage and initiate user participation and interest. Such features include for example an interface that has a good usability and visualization of appliance, apartment and building level energy usage.

The findings of the ICT tools study are currently being used by project partners for the development of three new ICT tools, which are under development in the framework of the AREA 21 project, including  a Benchmarking Tool (in Tartu), a Holistic System Tool (in Tampere) and an Energy Improvement Circle Tool (in Helsingborg).  The piloting and evaluation of the new tools is planned for 2019 and the beginning of 2020.