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Energy revolution in the office: viadee saves almost 60% on heating costs with smart Homematic IP radiator thermostats!
The desire for greater sustainability in the workplace led viadee IT consulting group to launch a energy-saving pilot project with results that far exceeded all expectations.
The coronavirus pandemic has ushered in a new world of work in many companies. Flexible working time models, working from home and shared workspaces are replacing entrenched, rigid structures. These changes are having a significant impact on the use of traditional office and commercial properties. Something that has also been noticed at the locations of the IT management consultancy viadee in Münster, Dortmund and Cologne. "We noticed that the new, changed world of work meant that our workspaces were no longer being used to capacity and that some rooms were even empty," recalls Markus Pepping, Managing Consultant at viadee. Although it was already common practice at the consulting company for employees to work remotely for long periods of time in order to maintain the closest possible contact with their clients, the proportion of remote working increased significantly during and after the coronavirus period.
In light of global climate change and the 2022 energy crisis, many viadee employees felt the need to make a contribution to greater sustainability, says Pepping: "We said we couldn't have the heating running all day in these unused rooms. We are an IT company, we have expertise, there must be a way to automate this." So they started looking for solutions. Markus Pepping found what he was looking for at home. Just like many of his colleagues, the IT consultant has Smart Home products in use in his own home and knew about the possibility of controlling the indoor climate with smart radiator thermostats for intelligent and energy-saving control. The idea of transferring this model to the office was obvious. A project that was also supported by the viadee management, reports CEO Rita Helter: "It is important to us that we act in the same way internally as we do towards our customers. This means that we take people's ideas and motivation seriously, support them accordingly and then try to create a good solution together." The company was therefore happy to provide a budget for the implementation of the project.
"It is important to us that we act in the same way internally as we do towards our customers. This means that we take people's ideas and motivation seriously, support them accordingly and then try to create a good solution together."
Rita Helter, Member of the Board at viadee
A system that meets all requirements
"When it came to selecting the system, we very quickly decided on Homematic IP," says Pepping. The smart home solution from eQ-3 AG, which is based in Leer, East Frisia, comprises more than 150 different products that can be used to intelligently automate and control almost any area of a building. The decisive factors for viadee were above all the long-term availability of the devices, the exceptional flexibility of the system and the security of having a reliable contact person close by in case any challenges were encountered during implementation. As Homematic IP met all the requirements, the company procured a total of 220 smart Homematic IP radiator thermostats for its locations in Münster and Cologne in summer 2022. These devices use individual heating profiles with up to 13 changes per day to ensure the desired feel-good temperature fully automatically at all times. The heating water flow is continuously adjusted and optimized in order to heat as energy-efficiently as possible. There is also an energy-saving window-open detection: if a room is ventilated, the thermostats automatically reduce the temperature so as not to literally heat out the window.
The smart thermostats can be installed in just a few simple steps. The Homematic IP Radiator Thermostat - Evo is the winner of the Stiftung Warentest test and, with its elegant appearance, is suitable for particularly prestigious areas.
Installing the devices was done quickly. "We did it ourselves, we didn't have to think about it for long," laughs Markus Pepping, "you just unscrew the old thermostat from the radiator and attach the new one. Then you press a button, the setup starts and it's integrated. Anyone can do that!" Now the smart helpers just had to be configured. To do this, the IT experts used the RaspberryMatic interface for the Homematic IP Smart Home Central Unit CCU3 to give them as much freedom as possible during configuration. In the software, they set a standard temperature for all rooms as well as automatic setback times, for example at the end of the working day and at weekends. Where the heaters previously liked to run unchecked even though no one was in the office, the room climate is now regulated according to demand. This simple measure alone can significantly reduce heating energy consumption. However, the viadee employees went one step further.
The resourceful inventors used the open software interface of the CCU3 to establish a connection between the smart thermostats and their self-developed room booking tool Buuky. With Buuky, every employee can flexibly reserve an office workstation or meeting room when they need it. During the Corona period when the program was introduced, it allowed an easy overview of office space occupancy. Now there is another valuable benefit. The combination of room booking software and smart thermostats enables heating to be controlled entirely according to demand: rooms are only brought up to temperature when they are booked in Buuky, i.e. when they are actually being used. Otherwise, the heating works in economy mode. Comfort does not fall by the wayside, on the contrary. When Markus Pepping and his employees arrive at the office in the morning, the rooms they have booked are already comfortably preheated. The temperature is then kept perfect during the day and automatically lowered in the evening when everyone goes home to save energy. And if someone does want it a little warmer - or has even forgotten to book a room - they don't have to spend the working day shivering. Manual readjustment of the thermostats is possible at any time.
The combination of room booking software and smart thermostats enables heating to be controlled entirely according to demand: rooms are only brought up to temperature when they are booked in Buuky, i.e. when they are actually being used.
Rethinking for more sustainability
The introduction of the smart heating control system met with great acceptance among the viadee workforce and, according to Rita Helter, even led to an increased sense of responsibility: "People now pay attention to whether they turn up the temperature, whether they keep the doors closed and whether they really need to heat up the bistro at seven in the evening because two people are still sitting there. People are much more aware of all these issues here and everyone feels responsible." Markus Pepping confirms this new way of thinking. During the initial phase of the project, he was approached several times by colleagues when a room that had not been booked was still heated up in the morning.
Rita Helter and her Management Board colleague Dr. Volker Oshege were receptive to the employees' plans.
Markus Pepping already had experience with Homematic IP and therefore took the lead in implementing the project.
The viadee employees can control and configure all 130 Homematic IP thermostats at the Münster site and 80 thermostats at the Cologne site via a central interface.
The successful introduction of smart heating control is not only reflected in a change in awareness within the company, but can also be clearly quantified. An energy cockpit, in which the meter readings are entered month by month, provides evidence of savings that exceed all expectations: heating costs have been reduced by almost 60 percent! "At first we were surprised and a little skeptical," says Pepping, "Can the savings really be that big?" But a comparison of the two locations confirmed the figures.
"In fact, the purchase of the smart thermostats has already paid for itself in the first year and we are already saving money in the second year."
Markus Pepping, Managing Consultant at viadee
The desire for more sustainability has therefore more than paid off for viadee. Significant financial savings and a positive development in the entire company culture are the reward for a small investment and the courage to break new ground. By using smart technology from Homematic IP, viadee Unternehmensberatung is doing its part to protect the climate and is a shining example for other companies. A success story that invites imitation and, above all, makes one thing clear: the path to a greener working world is much easier than expected.