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Large electricity consumers such as factories or industrial companies have long been optimizing their electricity consumption with an energy management system. For example, when lunches or dinners are being cooked in a hotel and the kitchen needs a lot of electricity, all the washing machines and tumble dryers switch off automatically. As soon as the kitchen needs less electricity, they turn on again. Since more and more homeowners want to produce their own solar power and reduce their energy costs, interest in home energy management is also increasing in Switzerland.
With an energy management system, EMS for short, you optimize the self-consumption of your photovoltaic system, use more cheap solar power than expensive power from the public grid and reduce your dependence on your energy supplier. An EMS is particularly energy efficient if you operate it with a photovoltaic system, battery storage, and as many controllable devices as possible. Controllable appliances are those that don't need constant power like a refrigerator or freezer. This means heat pumps and wallboxes, but also smart household appliances such as dishwashers or washing machines. The EMS plans and controls energy flows, stores unused energy and makes it available at the right place at the right time. If the solar power is only sufficient for energy consumption in the household, the EMS throttles the charging speed for the e-car, for example, or postpones the charging process until sufficient solar power is available.
The EMS is a small device and is installed in the meter box. There it records energy flows, evaluates data and predicts probable electricity consumption. This data is enriched with external information, for example weather data, to forecast the electricity production of the photovoltaic system. Thanks to this data, the EMS estimates when how much electricity will be consumed, how much solar power the photovoltaic system will produce, or the charge level of the battery storage. With this information, the EMS decides independently when is the best time to charge the battery storage, the wallbox or the heat pump. In addition, the EMS regularly checks whether the battery storage, the solar modules and inverters of the photovoltaic system and the e-charging station are working properly. If not, it suggests what to do. You can control the EMS with a computer via an online portal or with a smartphone or tablet via an app, set rules or evaluate and visualize data. The EMS can also be integrated into any smart home system and communicate with a smart meter.
In the first few months, you should regularly check whether the energy management system is set correctly, energy is consumed more efficiently and self-consumption increases.
Installation is quick if all electrical installations are up to date. It is best to ask a certified electrician from your region, because after installation some important individual settings are necessary. The efficiency of the EMS depends on these settings.
With an EMS, you control energy consumption and ...
The bottom line is that thanks to the energy management system, you know where you are using how much electricity and better understand how to reduce your energy consumption in the long term and sustainably.
The hardware costs a few hundred Swiss francs. For the EMS installation and the integration of the photovoltaic system, the battery storage, the heat pump and all controllable devices, calculate with 1,000 to 1,500 Swiss francs - the more devices you integrate, the more expensive it becomes. Depending on the EMS provider, there may also be monthly costs for data storage in the cloud. This makes sense because you can access all consumption data or forecasts and control your EMS anywhere and at any time.
With an EMS, you consume more cheap solar power and less expensive power from the grid. How quickly the energy management system pays for itself depends on how many controllable devices you integrate, how many kilowatt hours of energy consumption are flexible in time (controllable), and how much you can increase self-consumption. Various German studies conclude that self-consumption can be increased by up to 20 percent and energy consumption reduced by up to 50 percent if energy flows are intelligently redirected. Investing in an EMS is particularly worthwhile in energy-efficient buildings. If your house is not (yet) up to date in terms of energy, a building renovation or other energy-related measures may make more sense.
Unfortunately, Switzerland does not (yet) have a uniform subsidy program for EMS like for photovoltaic systems, heat pumps or energetic renovations. But this could change. Therefore, ask your electrician before you commission him, or find out more at energiefranken.ch (available in German, French and Italian).
If you store your information only locally, all data is as secure as you protect your computer, smartphone, or tablet. Define a secure password for the device and for the app, update the app and the operating system regularly, and create regular backups. If you want to visually display and comprehensively analyze the data that the energy management system collects and analyzes, many EMS providers require you to store the data in a cloud. Pay attention to the server location: If the data is stored in Switzerland or Europe, you are safer than on a server elsewhere, because our data protection laws are stricter and providers cannot claim the right to access their customers' data.