How to Save Energy at Home


Spurred on by a combination of curiosity and ambition, SAP cloud expert Bernd Huwe decided to participate in last year’s Europe-wide energy conservation contest (European Citizens Climate Cup), with his “Minus 1000+” project. The goal of his project was to reduce his household energy consumption by at least 1,000 kilowatt hours (kWh) within a single year. Not only did he reach this goal, he clearly surpassed it, saving 1,800 kWh. Huwe and his family were rewarded with a gift certificate for further home investments, as well as a trip to Brussels, Belgium, where the winners of all competing EU member states received their prizes.

His “passion” for saving energy was triggered by a very high gas bill. What were the reasons behind this? Bernd wanted to find out and went on the offensive, discovering a number of hidden defects on his house. The biggest flaws included faulty building insulation and construction defects in the roof and windows.

Analysis via SAP BusinessObjects Explorer

Bernd Huwe works in the area of SAP BusinessObjects Explorer as an SAP solution manager, so it made perfect sense for him to use the tool to analyze his home’s data. He explains: “Explorer is a great tool that is really easy for anyone to use to analyze large volumes of data.” First he uploaded a Microsoft Excel file containing some 260,000 data points to the cloud, such as electricity and gas consumption and the temperature values of his house control system. He then analyzed these data points with SAP BusinessObjects Explorer.

The analysis revealed conspicuous temperature cycles and very high consumption values for gas and electricity. At that point, Huwe sought out the builder to discuss repairs to his home, using the very useful analysis to back up his case.

Next page: Huwe’s recommendation for homeowners

Cloud-Experte Bernd Huwe reduzierte den Energieverbrauch  seines Hauses um 1.800 kWh und wurde zum besten Energiesparer Deutschlands gewählt.
SAP cloud expert Bernd Huwe reduced his household energy consumption by 1,800 kWh. Picture: privat

The experience ignited his passion for saving energy. He decided to optimize his home’s energy footprint even further, and refined the analysis. It turned out that the heating pumps and an improperly calibrated heating system were causing the high energy consumption. “I urge every homeowner to check the settings for their heating system and pumps, because you can save a lot of energy by optimizing older pumps or replacing them with newer models,” stresses Huwe.

Nowadays, intelligent house-control systems can regulate the heating in rooms based on presence profiles, and lighting can be turned on and off automatically, even via smartphone. So this means homeowners can enjoy significant energy savings without having to sacrifice living comfort. Huwe was particularly surprised to discover that his laptop power cable, even when not being used on a PC, ate up an incredible amount of energy; the same applied for his Nintendo Wii game console in standby mode. In addition, he installed a wood stove to reduce his dependency on the gas company even further. But his best investment, he says, were the solar panels on his roof.

All of these changes, adjustments, and investments in his home enabled the family to save 1,800 kWh of electricity a year and cut his heating costs in half as compared to 2007. Expenses for this technology and new equipment will pay for themselves in just four years.

Recommendation for homeowners?

Huwe recommends that everyone first analyze their own personal situation: “You can do quite a bit right off the bat: Replace old equipment, switch off the standby mode, systematically turn off lights, or replace light bulbs with efficient LEDs.” He also suggests turning to Internet Web sites for information, and setting up an energy conservation account for your household. Most importantly, the entire family needs to be involved.

What’s in store for his “Minus 1000+” project? Now that his heating system has been completely optimized, the water control system is up next. Plus, there’s always something else people can improve when it comes to energy usage. His project has since become his hobby. “I almost know more than some energy consultants,” jokes Huwe.