Harnessing potential


The rapid advance of digitisation is changing our daily lives, our work and even our thinking – and therefore also the subject of sustainability. How can the new digital possibilities be used to sustainably save important resources such as electricity, gas or water? We at ista believe that consumption transparency plays a crucial role here. For greater transparency changes behaviour and consequently our energy consumption as well.

Smart world?

Today, there are already many visions for the “smart” world of tomorrow. In this world, the front door recognises who is entering the apartment, energy data can be viewed and controlled at all times and the espresso coffee machine in the kitchen receives orders from the bedroom by app. With a smartphone, people control everything, from the room surveillance system and the room temperature to the energy management system of their electric car, which is parked in front of their house as a smart mobile energy storage system.

Many unanswered questions

However, many questions remain unanswered. Does “intelligent living” mean that in future we will really network everything in the building, from the light switch to the heating system and the fridge? To what extent will the data then remain under the householder’s control and not simply become a cool “commodity” for others to buy and sell? And how can the appropriate systems be installed and operated cost-effectively, in particular for tenants in multi-family buildings as well?

We at ista are already working today on key technologies for a digital world.

Smart submetering

We at ista also believe that the advancing digitisation of our everyday lives is a genuine opportunity for greater sustainability. However, the key questions of cost-effectiveness and data protection must be answered. For example, electricity consumption reveals precise details about our lifestyle and our private habits. Smart electricity meters touch on an area of critical infrastructure as they are connected to the transmission network. Their integration in particular into a residential building is therefore considerably more sensitive and complex.

By contrast, with heat, there is no connection to a critical infrastructure. Intelligent heat recording and control in apartment buildings only begin at the central heating system in the cellar and – just like elevator maintenance or stair cleaning – it is the property manager or owner who is responsible for it and orders it for the entire building. In contrast to the huge data volumes of individual power sources which are recorded by smart metering – from the washing machine to the individual lights in the different rooms, submetering remains restricted to the metering and visualisation of heat and hot water consumption in an apartment or a property. Complex data profiles are not recorded. The “smart” approach of submetering consists in giving tenants possibilities to control their energy consumption solely by using digital channels to prepare transparent, monthly heat and hot water consumption data. All studies conducted so far on submetering and on the provision of heat consumption information during the year show that the savings potential is huge compared to the investment cost.

Picture credits: grasundsterne