EnAware: Domestic Energy Awareness

At Fraunhofer Portugal, research of practical utility goes from health and agriculture to wearables, involving several other topics as energy consumption. The EnAware project addresses such challenges as the raising costs of energy and the increasing awareness of the consumers with regards to their ecological foot print, by developing an ecosystem of smart, connected devices. The project ended by the end of 2014, achieving the proposed goals, and its introduction into the market is currently being analyzed.

The EnAware begun in 2012 and consists of an ecosystem composed of a smart energy meter, several smart devices and a home server. During eight months, pilot tests have been deployed in three houses in Portugal (Maia, Aveiro, Lousã) and the results have been positive.

The smart energy meter, also called energy box, measures the power consumption within the household and provides access to the smart grid infrastructure, for instance to retrieve information about the available tariffs. The energy box and the home server communicate via the ModBus protocol over Power Line communication (PLC). Examples for the smart devices are smart sockets, smart switches or heat pumps. The devices have actuators, can measure energy consumption and communicate with the home ZigBee wireless networks using the home automation profile, which guarantees the seamless integration of third party products into the environment.

Besides contributing to the efficiency enhancement of the energy system as a whole, the innovations provided by the EnAware system offers an important step towards raising the end user awareness of the benefits brought by an efficient use of energy at home. In addition, the project focuses on market areas under a clear expansion – Smart Metering, Home Automation, Intelligent Electronic Devices – not only in Portugal but also worldwide.

In fact, the core of the EnAware system is the home server which orchestrates the different devices and provides the user interface (UI). The home server represents the main contribution of Fraunhofer AICOS in the project which has been carried out in collaboration with Bosch, Efacec and Efapel.

Moreover, to archive significant energy savings and cost reductions a dedicated analytic component was developed. This component can detect abnormal consumptions and helps in personalizing the schedules to the typical consumptions patterns.

The home server also hosts the platform independent user interface which is based on HTML5 and made available in the consumers’ home network to classic personal computers, but also to smart phones and tablet computers. The user interface is the result of a dedicated usability study which reflects the needs of the users and focuses on usability while providing a pleasant joyful user experience. Through the UI the consumer can control and manage the smart devices and can review their energy consumption. The user can also set monthly consumption goals and design scenarios for easier interaction with the devices.

EnAware was co-financed by the Portuguese QREN programme (POFC), with an overall budget of 732.000€.