Smart at Home

Smart appliances will bring huge benefits to European consumers, writes Paolo Falcioni.

Smart, internet-enabled appliances are entering our homes, moving our lives towards ever-greater connectivity. But how can we ensure that this increased connectivity does not also increase the complexity of home appliances for users seeking simple solutions?

Perhaps the biggest challenge of the Smart Home – and more broadly, the Internet of Things, is that smart appliances and devices must be able to connect and communicate with each other. If the appliances don’t understand each other, they cannot connect with each other and they cannot communicate.

A lack of interoperability (the ability to share information and talk to each other) could be a big obstacle for the implementation of Demand Side Flexibility at residential level, and prevent energy management systems from managing all smart products in a home.

Thanks to the work of EEBUS and Energy@home – two leading, non-profit associations that promote energy efficient technologies for the Smart Home - this issue of interoperability is being tackled.

CECED supports their work, and with a view to raising awareness about interoperability solutions being developed by these two associations, CECED has organised a series of practical demonstrations on 22nd -23rd June at its headquarters in Brussels, which will offer a practical demonstration of different home energy management scenarios and Smart Grid interactions: in other words, interoperability of smart appliances in practice. The demonstration will remain at the CECED premises until the European Utility Week in October 2017.

From my standpoint as the home appliance industry’s representative in Brussels I can see that smart appliances will be the next big wave of innovation for our sector. The home appliance industry in Europe is willing and able to lead this revolution with new and workable solutions that are open and effective for many types of appliances and technologies, going even beyond the home appliance sector.

The industry is leading the development of answers to the key interoperability questions that are currently on the EU table.

Marco Signa, Director at Energy@home as well as CECED’s Chairman for its smart living working group stresses: “This demonstration is an exciting step in the journey towards the truly connected home. The demonstration is a vital step forward towards the homes of the future, where technology works seamlessly, making the complexity of our modern lives easier, and helping us live in a more environmentally sensitive way.”

Josef Baumeister, EEBUS Director, adds: “This new language works with different communication protocols and aims to ensure that connected appliances from different brands are able to consistently communicate with a home energy manager, as well as with each other.

When all connected devices in the home can exchange information in this fashion, it will be possible for the system to manage and optimise energy use – for example by taking advantage of the best energy tariffs or peak times in renewable energy generation.

Smart appliances will play a vital part in the energy revolution that is taking place within Europe. Last November (2016), the European Commission published its new Clean Energy for All Europeans package, an important next step towards the creation of the Energy Union for Europe, and empowering European consumers to be more in control of their energy use and flexibility.

CECED, along with many other energy actors, advocates for a consumer-focused Energy Union and policy that harnesses new technological innovations from industry and puts the role and interests of European consumers centre stage, while simultaneously contributing to delivering further sustainable growth in Europe.

Home appliances that speak the same language, and communicate with an energy manager and with each other in an integrated home ecosystem, providing the benefits that smart energy management can provide for consumers, can help make this a reality.

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