What is this project going to do? – It is going to empower consumers.

Empower them to do what? – To improve their energy performance; to get a better deal out of their electricity company; to enable the company to achieve a better and more dynamic balance of supply and demand and thus, ultimately; to contribute to achieving the EU 20% energy efficiency improvement target.

How is the project going to do this? – By involving and informing energy consumers, helping them take measures to save energy on the basis of the information they read on their meters or on their bills. This is easy to say and difficult to do. It requires the development and implementation of a new type of information service related to the energy bill and the challenge is to capture peoples’ attention, inspire them to take positive action with regard to energy and then to maintain this level of positive participation.

So, what’s new: hasn’t this all been done before? – What’s new is the meaningfulness of the information. Until now the best information provided has been a comparison with the historical information of the customer (say the last 12 months) and general tips of energy saving. All this tells you, is whether you are consuming more or less than last year, not whether this is a little or a lot, nor whether there is anything specific that you can do about it. What we are going to do is to analyse data across the utility’s database of clients and interrogate the database for similar types of customer (by neighbourhood, size of building, number of users, climatic zone, etc.). This will enable the information to be personalised and made relevant: it will tell you whether you are consuming more or less than similar customers (neighbours for example). It will also enable the utility to offer specific, personalised, targeted information: whether your consumption is above or below average overall, in winter, in summer, whether that means that you should (for instance) check your boiler, check that you have good solar protection, etc. All this is possible with conventional meters and monthly metering. If you add the potential of smart meters and hourly metering, for example, the possibilities expand enormously: setting alarms for abnormal consumption, detecting high consumption levels for base-load appliances such as refrigerators and freezers, etc. These possibilities are already being developed by the most avant-garde utilities in Europe but the potential is far from the mainstream. The EMPOWERING consortium aims to accelerate the transition of the use of this type of service from pioneer companies to mainstream best practice.