CO2 savings is all about adjusting
For a radiator to get up to par – in terms of energy efficiency – it needs the ideal pressure and the right amount of water. Thanks to hydraulic adjustment (HA), heating water pressure can be optimised. The adjustment reduces heating costs and greenhouse gas emissions. Still, few consumers are aware of this possibility.
At a glance
The non-profit consulting company co2online started the campaign “My heater can do more” (“Meine Heizung kann mehr”) to inform German homeowners about why and how heating optimisation works with hydraulic adjustment (HA) and to motivate them to act. The campaign was part of a broader joint project aimed at increasing the acceptance of HA and at making its benefits known to as many homeowners and home services technicians as possible. Together with other partners, and scientifically supervised by the EOS (Institute for Energy-Optimized Systems) of the Ostfalia University of Applied Sciences, a large number of consumers became convinced of hydraulic adjustment.
High demand for heating energy, and resulting savings potentials
At present, about 30 per cent of the demand for energy in Germany is needed for heating. This corresponds to 250 million tonnes of CO2 emissions per year. HA is an effective means to increase the efficiency of heating systems. According to the research results of EOS Ostfalia, hydraulically calibrated heating systems save about 10 kilowatt-hours of primary energy per square metre per year.
This is how hydraulic adjustment works
According to the principle of the path of least resistance, heating water wants to return to the boiler as quickly as possible. If the pressure with which the water runs through the heating pipes is not properly adjusted, or if there are air bubbles in the pipes, heating performance will be suboptimal. Radiators that are close to the boiler become too hot; and those that are too far away will not even get warm. This is a waste of valuable heating energy. The proper fine tuning by means of HA ensures an optimal heat distribution throughout the home. HA is only one of many components that contribute to the optimisation of a heating system. Often, as part of the adjustment, the thermostatic valves as well as the control of the valves are calibrated and, if required, the pump head is optimised. Finally, individual parts are also replaced or newly installed, as needed.
Helping HA break through with...
At the beginning of the campaign, HA was largely unknown among homeowners – which is where the campaign set in by offering information and motivating to action.
… allies in the cause
In order to expand the reach of the campaign as much as possible, the partners co2online and Ostfalia University brought allies into the project. These include: Germany’s Federal Office for Economic Affairs and Export Control (BAFA); the German sanitation and HVAC association ZVSHK; the federal association of chimney sweepers (`Bundesverband der Schornsteinfeger´, ZIV); the energy consultancy section of the consumer centre in North Rhine-Westphalia (`Energieberatung der Vebraucherzentrale NRW´); a forum for energy efficiency in building technology (`Forum für Energieeffizienz in der Gebäudetechnik e.V.´); the measuring, control and monitoring device manufacturer Afriso; and the building technology software specialist Hottgenroth. These partners have integrated information about the campaign on their website and promoted it at trade fairs.
… using video to spread the word
To give more visibility to the campaign, co2online made two videos which were posted on its own website, on Youtube and on the websites of project partners. The first video shows a man-in-the-street interview on the subject “Do you know what hydraulic adjustment is?” This was to arouse people’s curiosity in the topic. In a subsequent follow-up video, three home services technicians offer insight into their work, explaining why they are involved in the campaign and promoting HA.
As part of the “Consumer Ambassadors” promotional campaign of co2online, homeowners presented their homes and the savings achieved through HA on the website, and thus gave a face to the campaign.
“Hydraulic adjustment must be supported and advanced. It can make a significant contribution to the achievement of the national climate action goal, while also helping homeowners save money.” Prof. Dr. Dieter Wolff, heating systems expert at Ostfalia University of Applied Sciences
Online communication campaign with heating check and a technician directory
One element of the project was an online information campaign that revolved around the campaign website www.meine-heizung.de. In co-operation with the project partners, co2online developed texts, image sequences, infographics, animations, videos, sample calculations and funding options, and published them on that website. On co2online’s online “WärmeCheck” (heating check) those interested could check whether HA would be worthwhile for their building. In the online directory “Rat und Tat” (words and deeds) as many as 5,700 technicians and energy consultants have set up their profile to date. The profile database has been integrated into roughly one thousand partner portals and offers interested parties the opportunity to find service providers in their vicinity.
Quick check with the mobile app
In 2012, the project team developed the mobile app “EnergieCheck” (energy check). For this, the existing “StandbyCheck-App” was upgraded and integrated into the new app. The way it works: users feed meter readings into the mobile app. The app then issues a range of recommendations accessing four already existing recommendation platforms for energy savings managed by co2online (namely “Energiesparkonto”, “StromCheck”, “StandbyCheck” and “Rat und Tat”).
In order to expand its reach, the project joined forces with “Initiative Verbraucher Apps,” which is a coalition of companies and campaigns seeking to improve the way in which smartphone apps help consumers to better organise their daily life, save money or make better purchase decisions.
A highly successful campaign
Based on the evaluation of the co2online project, the campaign achieved significant success. The website got a total of 400,000 visitors; some 135,000 people used the heating check; and the EnergieCheck app was downloaded 28,000 times. Homeowners and technicians requested 330,000 flyers about HA.
The survey of technicians showed that only nine per cent of consumers had requested that HA be done at the start of the campaign – in contrast to the 20 per cent who demanded HA at the end of the campaign. A total of 21,000 hydraulic adjustments were implemented during the project period.
What were the project goals?
- Provide information to homeowners about HA;
- Provide information and qualifications for home services technicians for carrying out HA;
- Provide information to energy consultants about the savings potential of HA.
What did the project achieve?
- 400,000 visits of www.meine-heizung.de; 28,000 downloads of the “EnergieCheck” app; execution of 135,000 “WärmeChecks”;
- Distribution of 330,000 flyers to homeowners and technicians;
- Increase in the demand for HA from 9 to 20 per cent among consumers;
- Initiation of 21,000 hydraulic adjustments.
What happened next?
Information on HA, “WärmeCheck”, the technician directory as well as the app are still available on the campaign website www.meine-heizung.de.
Contribution to climate action
By means of a study based on 36 multi-family homes of the residential construction companies GEWOBA and Nibelungen Wohnbau GmbH in Bremen and Braunschweig – the OPTIMUS study – EOS Ostfalia demonstrated that HA, when implemented at a large scale, can significantly contribute to reducing CO2 emissions. Comparative measurements showed that an average of ten kilowatt hours of energy per square metre was saved per year through hydraulic adjustment.
The evaluation of the “WärmeCheck” app showed that the HA actions it induced each year saved 35,478 tonnes of CO2. The cost savings are 3.61 euros per tonne of CO2.
Checklist for success
- Enter into alliances with trade associations and media partners;
- Spread information across different channels (online, via flyers, at trade fairs) in order to reach different target groups;
- Announcement of success stories by consumer ambassadors.
For certain topics, such as HA, it is useful to address target groups in different ways.
Advantages of having strong partners
Complementing the scientific expertise of EOS Ostfalia, more than 30 network partners provided their know-how and communication channels on a more on‑demand basis. For example, the German sanitation and HVAC association ZVSHK was involved in the part of the campaign targeting technicians, informing its 26,000 members about HA. The federal association of chimney sweepers ZIV, for its part, likewise pointed out the benefits of HA to its members. Shortly afterwards, 45,000 flyers were ordered to pass on to customers.
Ambassadors, video campaigns and a sweepstake
From the beginning, the campaign used different communication channels to reach the various target groups. For example, the project designed flyers specifically for technicians, informing them about the sales opportunities of HA and about where to order materials for customer outreach. Consumers found information and inspiration on the website, through “WärmeCheck” and other media. The technicians who perform HA presented themselves in the online industry directory.
The implementation of HA and the achieved savings were communicated per video by the “Consumer Ambassadors.” In addition, the project was presented at the international sanitation and HVAC trade fair in Frankfurt on the Main. There, a highly efficient heating pump could be won right on the spot, with some 262 homeowners taking part in the raffle.
Through informal discussions with journalists, co2online was able to get the topic covered in the media. Among other things, discussions on HA took place with the information service of the German press agency dpa, the TV consumer programme ZDF WISO and various trade journals. These media then reported extensively on hydraulic adjustment.
Additional qualification and legal regulations
The students of the Ostfalia University came to realise that there is a shortage of skilled tradespeople who can correctly implement the HA. An information and motivational campaign alone cannot solve this problem. Rather, the topic needs to be integrated in the training programmes of apprentices and masters. An additional qualification specifically for HA would be useful. Technicians thus qualified could then be listed in specialist directories. The project recommended that HA be incorporated into Germany’s Energy Saving Ordinance (EnEV), which has been regulating the energy efficiency standard for new buildings since 2016. In this way, HA would be required by law.
co2online gGmbH and Ostfalia University of Applied Sciences