Today, we can control almost all aspects of our lives on a smartphone. We have home temperature apps, heart rate monitors and video-enhanced doorbells. However, one aspect of life that is stuck in the past is the way home energy is provided and monitored, argues green energy supplier Pinergy’s Director Peter Bastable.
“People have been conditioned to receive a bill, but bills are the technology of the past,” he said. “It’s about engagement, up-to-the-minute data that gives people the insights they need to create a sustainable energy future. Our app is a fitness tracker for your home’s use of green energy.”
For consumers to engage with and reduce their energy use — and for Ireland to meet its goal to reduce CO2 emissions in 2050 by 80% on 1990 levels — measurement and advice are vital.
Pinergy has turned on its head the way an energy supplier can communicate with people to provide exactly that.
Energy Use Can Be Smart
Pinergy’s growth to become one of Ireland’s leading authorities on smart energy technology has followed the evolution of the residential market. Since 2012, new multinational and domestic investors have been moving in and are, in Bastable’s words, “here for the long haul, keen to make quality places to live by adding amenities and services”.
From 2015, to support this drive to create a high level of service, Pinergy started supplying smart meters. Tenants enjoyed the visibility a smart meter provides, while for landlords they removed the need for agents to visit a property to take meter readings when a tenant moved in or out.
More recently, Pinergy launched its app to connect people more directly with their home energy usage.
During the last 12 months, landlords’ interest in Pinergy has increased along with the necessity of environmental, social and governance reporting. Pinergy works with landlords to provide building energy ratings and some have used the available data provided by Pinergy to prove their ESG credentials, thereby allowing them access to cheaper debt in the marketplace Bastable reported.
“We supply, we analyse, then we advise,” he said. “We suggest ways to improve energy consumption, such as through battery storage, solar installation, different heating systems.
We help landlords do what they really need to: firstly, reduce carbon emissions by switching to a green supplier and demonstrate they have done so and, secondly, reduce consumption.”
Visibility Is Vital
Key to Pinergy’s offering is the provision of up-to-the-minute data. This is vital to allowing residents and landlords to reduce energy consumption, and is the main reason why providing a monthly bill should be a thing of the past, Bastable said.
“You can’t change what you can’t see,” he said. “While traditional energy suppliers just send a bill each month, we offer constant access to energy use from your smartphone.”
Bastable highlighted how building in the ability to see energy use across the whole building needs to happen at the start.
“Until now, landlords could only measure the efficiency of energy use in common areas of residential blocks,” he said. “However, they have an ESG target to reduce consumption across the whole building and our stats show that the separate apartments account for 60% of a building’s energy use. Now when a developer is building a scheme, we arrive and install smart meters. This ensures the scheme is supplied by 100% clean energy and we can measure that 100%. We can help them predict energy usage for each individual apartment, whether it’s two-bed, three-bed and so on.”
When everyone starts to switch to electric heating and vehicles, Bastable pointed out, the national grid could face challenges. Reducing consumption will become more vital, along with using sustainable sources of energy. Not all landlords have considered how to supply EV charging points. Pinergy can feed usage directly to the right apartment.
Green Is Going To Grow
The private rented sector is the perfect sector to champion the growth of green energy, Bastable said. A report from Hooke & MacDonald forecast a delivery of 21,000 units in Ireland in 2021, which will all be managed by landlords with a greater focus on sustainability. As well as long term relationships between green energy suppliers and landlords, Bastable described how we could see a future where PRS blocks start sharing power between them, for example if one collects an excess of solar energy. All this could be made possible by effective measurement.
The sector also brings together a receptive audience for Pinergy’s messages and services. Pinergy provides content such as videos and brochures for landlords to help residents understand how to reduce their energy consumption. Bastable hoped that these residents will go on to champion sustainable energy as the concept evolves.
“We identify the cohort of people who live in these properties as ‘connected millennials,’” Bastable said. “They probably have an awareness of the challenges facing the planet and want to do something about it. They’re tech savvy, do everything on their phones and are about 30 years old — they’ll be 50 before they know it and will take their sustainable commitments to their next houses.”
Bastable highlighted how Pinergy is learning as the sustainable energy industry grows. By analysing data from residents, the company has identified how different people can benefit from a low tariff at a different time of day, depending on their lifestyle, rather than the traditional night-time low tariff. If consumers and residents are willing to learn more about energy consumption too, Ireland’s target to reduce emissions might start to feel within reach.
This article was produced in collaboration between Pinergy and Studio B.