Scandinavians control energy home and away

Scandinavians control energy home and awayJon Mainwaring
The experience of coming home to a freezing cold house after a weekend winter break is now a thing of the past for many Finns and Norwegians thanks to a project carried out by two Scandinavian companies.
Telepower allows users to control their homes’ energy usage from any place at any time through their telephones. It is based on a 30 month Eureka project started in January 1995 by Cresto Technologies, a developer of hardware and software systems for energy conservation and computer telephony integration, and Edstroem Komponent of Sweden, which manufactures temperature control systems.
The system uses two components – a Central Station and a TelePower switch.
The Central Station is a one-off facility owned by a telecoms operator, costing just 35,000 ECUs (?23,000), which act as a switchboard that can route calls to homes around a whole country. “Put simply, it’s a call centre,” says Dr Ulf Ravenaes, marketing manager at Cresto, who explains that the user simply calls the station to set his or her central heating system or turn the hot water tank on. The user is asked automatically which appliance he wishes to set, and at what date and time this is to be done. “The station uses an interactive voice system and paging technology, and it can receive calls 24 hours a day,” adds Ravenaes.
The system is cheap for home owners to implement and use. “The only thing the home owner purchases is a TelePower switch the size of a matchbox,” says Ravenaes. Also, users only pay for the service when they use it.
The TelePower switch contains a paging device that is activated by a signal from the Central Station. It is hardwired to relays around the home connected to the central heating system, although it could also be connected to other devices such as lights, ovens, and even video-recorders.
So far, Telepower has been established in Finland and Norway. Cresto has signed an agreement with FINNET, a telecoms operator which has purchased a Central Station, to supply TelePower switches to the Finnish market over the next five years.
But Cresto, which has had a request to supply the system to an operator in the Netherlands, aims to sell the system across the rest of Europe, and is actively seeking a partner in the UK.


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