Home Energy Management System (HEMS): Function, Variants, Costs

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Imagine a home of the future autonomously managing its energy needs. Through an intelligent interface, energy flows are optimized so that no watt is wasted unnecessarily.

The Home Energy Management System (HEMS) is a key component in this.

A home energy system designed to optimize self-consumption is no longer a utopia. With advancing climate change and rising energy prices, the need for energy efficiency and self-sufficiency is becoming increasingly important. A HEMS can play a crucial role in this context.

Basics of Home Energy Management Systems

A Home Energy Management System (HEMS) connects and controls various energy flows in your home and optimizes the self-consumption of generated energy. It acts as the control center for intelligent energy consumption and production. The goal is to maximize efficiency and reduce costs by optimizing the interaction of energy sources.

HEMS not only organizes consumption but also the storage and production of energy. Solar energy, heat pumps, and battery storage are typical components whose deployment and efficiency are ensured by the HEMS. It dynamically adjusts consumption according to your needs, taking into account external influences such as weather data and energy prices.

The networking and automation through a HEMS enable comprehensive energy management. With real-time data and predictive analytics, it ensures optimized use of energy resources, effectively contributing to the reduction of energy costs and CO₂ emissions.

Functions and Components

A Home Energy Management System automates and optimizes energy consumption through intelligent networking of home technology components.

Innovative HEMS reduce electricity consumption by an average of 10 to 25 percent, thereby increasing efficiency and reducing energy costs.

Key elements are control units, sensors, and actuators, which together manage energy producers such as photovoltaic systems, heat pumps, and battery storage efficiently. Their data allow precise forecasts and real-time adjustments to optimize energy consumption and avoid overproduction.

User interfaces visualize all energy flows and make them adjustable - an essential tool for transparent and controlled energy management. Advanced algorithms use not only internal data but also external data sources like weather forecasts and energy prices to maximize efficiency.

Advantages of a Home Energy Management System

Home Energy Management Systems (HEMS) offer a holistic view of all energy resources of the house, unlike traditional systems which often act in isolation and do not enable comprehensive control.

The energy efficiency is significantly increased by operating devices only when absolutely necessary.

Furthermore, HEMS enable the use of cheaper energy prices through intelligent load management and time-shifting of consumption processes (well-known examples include charging electric cars or optimizing the deployment of heat pumps during low-tariff periods).

Greater autonomy in energy management means less dependence on energy providers, which offers not only financial but also security benefits to consumers.

By using real-time data and taking into account external influences such as weather reports, HEMS can act even more effectively and, for example, optimally use self-produced solar electricity, which is not possible with traditional systems without such adaptive functions.

In the context of sustainability and CO₂ emission reduction, HEMS offer a future-oriented solution that has the potential to significantly support and accelerate the energy transition in the private sector.

Intelligent Control of Household Appliances

HEMS play a crucial role in increasing the efficiency of household appliances by providing an intelligent control interface. Through this interface, devices such as washing machines, dishwashers, and heating systems can be programmed to operate during times of lower electricity tariffs or when surplus power from renewable sources is available. This not only helps to reduce electricity costs but also enables more efficient use of generated energy.

Optimized control of household appliances and devices such as ev chargers for electric cars, can significantly contribute to relieving the power grid. By switching devices on and off as needed, a more even load distribution is achieved and the grid frequency is stabilized. Especially in combination with predictive algorithms that use weather data to anticipate solar power production, HEMS can ensure that the energy consumption of the household and the energy production from renewable sources are in an optimal ratio. This makes the goal of an autonomous and efficient energy management more tangible.

Automation for Efficiency Enhancement

Automation plays a key role in increasing energy efficiency in residential buildings. Intelligent systems precisely control and optimize energy flows.

  1. Better utilization of renewable energy sources: By adjusting energy consumption to available renewable energy, its potential is fully exploited.
  2. Reduction of peak loads: Intelligent algorithms distribute energy consumption evenly and thus avoid peak loads on the network.
  3. Prediction-based control: Prediction algorithms use weather and usage data to predict energy needs and control devices accordingly.
  4. Remote monitoring and control: Allows owners to check and adjust energy consumption and production in real-time.
  5. Integration of battery storage systems: Battery storage is integrated for optimal use of surplus renewable energy. Automated control enables finely tuned synchronization between energy production and consumption. A Home Energy Management System (HEMS) acts as the central intelligence for these processes and ensures a high level of efficiency and comfort.

Adaptation to User Behavior

Home Energy Management Systems (HEMS) are increasingly able to adapt to the individual lifestyles and habits of households. This enhances living comfort without unnecessarily driving up energy consumption.

User-specific settings are automatically learned and optimized. The result is a tailored energy management.

Moreover, an advanced HEMS recognizes patterns in consumption that are correlated with times of the day and proactively adjusts systems. The integration of artificial intelligence enables the HEMS to learn from every interaction and continuously improve.

Another key advantage is that the HEMS can act proactively. By analyzing behavioral data over a longer period, it is able to predict future user behavior and accordingly steer energy flows. This leads to more efficient energy use and can help to reduce costs, for example, by using devices at cheaper tariff times.

Integration of Renewable Energies

The connection of a Home Energy Management System (HEMS) with renewable energy sources such as solar panels is a crucial factor for a sustainable energy economy in the home. By directly integrating these resources into the HEMS, locally generated electricity is optimized for self-consumption and fed into the public power grid only when needed. Intelligent control thus ensures maximum efficiency in the use of renewable energies.

Additionally, the integration of renewable energies into a HEMS allows for precise analysis of energy consumption and production. This leads to sophisticated energy flow management, where overproduction is stored or specifically consumed, for example, to charge electric vehicles or for heat generation. In times of low production, the HEMS supports the user by offering dynamic tariffs or suggesting alternative consumption patterns to minimize energy costs while maintaining ecological responsibility.

HEMS in the Electrified Home

The modern electrified home particularly benefits from a Home Energy Management System (HEMS) as it has large consumers such as heat pumps as heating systems and features wall boxes for charging electric cars. In addition, solar panels are usually installed, and the HEMS helps to optimally utilize the solar electricity.

Through the integration of dynamic electricity tariffs (and in the future also dynamic network charges), renewable electricity produced by large wind and solar plants can be optimally used based on price signals. This not only helps the grid but also the consumers by reducing costs.

In this way, the HEMS becomes an integral part of the future energy system. It enables efficient use of renewable energies and contributes to the stability of the power grid.

Coupling with Photovoltaic Systems

The connection of a Home Energy Management System (HEMS) with photovoltaic systems allows for an (almost) autonomous power supply.

Intelligent algorithms control the energy flow efficiently and according to demand. Surpluses can be stored or directed to energy-intensive applications.

The HEMS also ensures that the consumption and storage of solar electricity are optimally managed, such as in battery storage. This ensures continuous supply during times of lower solar irradiation or at night, increasing independence from the external power grid.

A sophisticated analytics platform within the HEMS continuously monitors the performance of the photovoltaic system and adjusts the energy flows to consumption peaks and valleys. This ensures that both economic and ecological potentials are fully exploited. These data enable the homeowner to continuously optimize their energy efficiency, underscoring the decision for a climate-friendly energy future.

Battery Storage and Energy Management

Energy storage is increasingly becoming an important component of a modern Home Energy Management System (HEMS). It enables the time-shifted use of self-generated electricity.

In combination with a HEMS, the use of battery storage allows for even more precise alignment of energy consumption with energy production. Intelligent control can catch peak loads and significantly reduce energy costs. Moreover, the system’s integration with all components in the house ensures optimal use of stored energy.

Especially with fluctuating energy production, as occurs with photovoltaic systems, battery storage secures the energy supply. A sophisticated management system controls the use of stored energy and ensures efficient supply at all times.

Through the integration of the HEMS into the battery storage system, a synergistic connection is created that not only boosts the energy efficiency of the house. It also allows for analytical control over the energy flow and enhances the homeowner’s ability to actively manage energy consumption. This achieves an optimal balance between consumption, storage, and production, ultimately leading to a significant reduction in externally sourced electricity and increased autonomy.

Differences between Hardware-based and Cloud-based Home Energy Management Systems

Traditionally, Home Energy Management Systems (HEMS) are installed as hardware-based solutions in the house. The energy management system runs on a small computer and is connected to the devices (wall box, heat pump, etc.) via cabling (e.g., LAN).

In contrast, there are now also

cloud-based HEMS, such as Zerofy, that communicate directly through the Internet interfaces of the devices. These cloud solutions allow you to try out the HEMS without additional installation.

Cloud-based HEMS offer several advantages over traditional hardware-based systems:

  1. Easy Implementation: Since no hardware installation is required, the costs and effort of mounting devices in the house are eliminated.
  2. Flexibility: Cloud-based HEMS can be accessed from anywhere over the Internet. This allows users to monitor and adjust their energy consumption data and settings at any time and from any device.
  3. Scalability: Cloud-based HEMS can be easily tailored to individual needs and requirements. It is possible to add additional features or devices without installing physical hardware.
  4. Cost Savings: Since no hardware needs to be purchased and installed, cloud-based HEMS are generally more cost-effective. There are no additional hardware and installation costs.It is important to note that both hardware-based and cloud-based HEMS have their own advantages and disadvantages. The choice between the two depends on the individual needs, budget, and technical requirements of the homeowner.

What Does a Home Energy Management System Cost?

The costs of an energy management system are composed of hardware, installation, and software license costs. Generally, the costs for a home energy management system should quickly pay off, especially in a house with a photovoltaic system, wall box/electric car, and heat pump.

For hardware-based systems, the costs for the HEMS are usually a few hundred euros. Installation, including wiring of consumers, can further amount to a few hundred or just over a thousand euros. Thus, the initial costs can be around 1000 euros or more, often with an additional software license fee.

A cloud-based system has no initial hardware costs. In general, no on-site installation is necessary, provided the inverter, the wall box (or electric car) are Internet-connected. In some cases, for example, a heat pump must be controlled with a cloud-connected relay (via SG-Ready interface), which incurs some installation effort (max 1h electrician and about 50 euros in materials). The cloud-based system generally has a license fee as a monthly subscription (often with a free trial version).