Experiences from a living laboratory

Solbrønd_Erik_kirstenOne of the families in the demonstration project Insero Live Lab – which is part of the European FINESCE project – shared some of their experiences with being part of a living laboratory. The husband, Erik, likes to know how everything works – also down to the small details – and his wife Kirsten looks forward to a winter with a warm home, and a clear conscience when taking long baths.

This year, we look forward to winter
In Erik and Kirsten’s house in the village of Stenderup, all the new technologies are running and the final details are soon ready. The village is one of the trial sites in the large European FINESCE project, which aims at testing and developing the future Internet for various industries. Even though the technologies have been running for some time, the couple still look forward to wintertime when the new energy solution will be put to its test. When the couple was asked if they had faith in the technologies and that they would keep running during the winter, the answer was clear – YES, they both replied.

However, Kirsten and Erik look forward to the cold season for Additional reasons. For instance, this winter they won’t have the trouble with their old energy solution, oil- and wood-fired heating:

Wood-fired heating needs much attention during the winter, because you have to throw wood in the boiler several times a day in order for it to keep running. It’s going to be nice not wasting all that time. And then we look forward to a nice and warm house when we return from a vacation – the point is namely that the heating will be saved,  explains Kirsten.

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Erik is showing the sunwell

Sustainable for many years
The couple have for many years been self-sufficient: they have been part of a windmill association and have had solar heating panels on their roof for many years. That is why the couple are used to the flexibility that is needed for the savings to appear on their bills:

I don’t mind doing the laundry in the middle of the day when the sun is shining on our solar cells, and here in the middle of the summer, they are producing electricity even before we get up. And we also charge the electric car in the middle of the day so we can save a little, says Kirsten.

Even though one of the reasons for joining the Insero Live Lab project was the sustainable energy, the couple does not want be short of anything in their everyday life:

Off cause we support sustainable energy but we also believe that one should not miss anything. I do the laundry and charge the car in the middle of the day, but I am not going to settle for less than we need, for example, I like taking a long bath, argues Kirsten

Moreover, the couple decided to join the project hoping that the technologies will help raise the selling price of the 250 square metres large house, when they one day decide to sell.

Contribute to the living laboratory
With an electrical background, Erik has a natural interest in all the technology in the project, and he also reveals that he has already looked at some of the technology inside the equipment:

In the beginning, some of the equipment was not running as expected, and it became very warm inside the house. So I adjusted some of the settings for the valve, and since then we haven’t had any problems with the temperature, Erik explains.

As part of a living laboratory, the aim is for the families to become so called ‘prosumers’, where they collaborate with the manufacturers in order for the products to be further developed and improved. The final aim of the project is to develop a system, which will be used for controlling energy production and consumption. As users of the technologies, the families have a unique knowledge and experiences that can contribute to better solutions, and with a broad technical knowledge, Erik already has some ideas for the project:

A solution including a windmill and a heat pump will perhaps be more sustainable because the windmill produces on a large scale during the winter and that’s when the heat pump needs the electricity. The solar cells, however, don’t produce as much during this season, suggests Erik.

_MG_1539_MG_1525Prefer the electric car
Especially the new Nissan Leaf electric car has provided pleasure in the couple’s everyday life, and even though it is mostly Kirsten who uses the electric car for her short trips into town, Erik also grabs it sometimes. However, according to Erik, the electric car has one disadvantage:

It is definitely a downside that the electric car doesn’t have a trailer coupling because out here in the countryside, it is necessary with a trailer, explains Erik.

However, the couple both agree that the car drives well. Also, friends and family agree when testing the electric car in Stenderup:

It’s driving very well and it accelerates fast, and then it is cheaper than our other car. But we can’t do without our petrol car, because sometimes we do take longer trips and then we don’t want to take the electric car and waste time on pulling in to charge, explains the couple.

A future with Insero Live Lab
The Insero Live Lab project has completed the construction phase, and therefore the fall will include testing of the automatic controlling and optimizing of the new solutions. The couple looks forward to especially this phase:

Everything is running and that’s fine, however, now we need to start adjusting the different equipment and learn how we can optimize all of it, explains Erik.

For this reason, the couple has volunteered to help Insero Live Lab with feedback during the testing phase.

This post is also available in: Danish