Country-specific, product-specific heating and cooling information
Decision-makers, from consumers to policymakers, face significant challenges in collecting, understanding and comparing data on a virtually limitless number of topics in the age of Big Data. Online tools and databases that harness existing data and streamline these processes – especially in a tailored way – are invaluable. As the EU-funded HACKS project has demonstrated, innovation is not only new product creation but also better ways to showcase the best of existing products. HACKS’ product experts have streamlined consumers’ search for more energy-efficient heating and cooling appliances. They have objectively selected the top products on the market in each of 15 countries and compiled easily accessible information about them for further comparison.
A market transformation to accelerate the green energy transition
HACKS sought to transform the heating and cooling appliances market by encouraging manufacturers to produce more energy-efficient products, retailers to promote and consumers to buy them. As project coordinator Therese Kreitz of the French Agency for Ecological Transition explains: “This all starts with consumers. Engaging the public can illustrate the growing consumer demand and preference for certain energy-efficient products, putting pressure on product manufacturers and retailers, driving a market transformation.” “HACKS’ activities expanded the previously existing Topten national and EU websites guiding consumers to the most energy-efficient appliances in Europe to include vital heating and cooling appliances. This was quite complex and region specific and would not have been possible without EU funding. And these appliances are critical because they account for the greatest overall energy consumption – and energy bill – of households,” states Sophie Attali of www.guidetopten.fr (Guide Topten), and founder and manager of Topten in France.
Tailored heating and cooling appliance comparisons by region
HACKS united the product-specific expertise of the project’s 17 dynamic partners from 15 EU countries and assimilated general best practices. Then, partners identified the ‘top ten’ or best products available in each country. On the HACKS project website, users select their country of interest. This takes them to country specific Topten websites with general and country specific information. For example, on the United Kingdom and Spanish websites (the latter in Spanish), users find information about several categories of heating and cooling appliances. Each category (e.g. biomass boilers) includes: a searchable list of top products with energy-related information; selection criteria and relevant regulations; and product (category) guides including recommendations to consider when installing. Finally, the HACKS calculator asks a series of questions on a given residential heating and cooling installation and provides the best alternative solutions to make it more energy efficient.
Policy recommendations, sustainability business models and more
The European Climate, Infrastructure and Environment Executive Agency and the Directorate-General for Energy have highlighted the use of Topten market-based evidence in policy making, given its near-real-time benchmarks for energy labels and minimum performance standards. The project also devoted significant effort to disseminating low or even no-cost solutions such as placing foil on the wall behind a radiator. The latter became quite pressing due to the energy uncertainty and prices associated with the ongoing conflict in Ukraine. Information on HACKS’ activities, policy recommendations and solutions for those seeking content to disseminate to their target audiences can be found in the HACKS interim report on case studies. HACKS’ contribution to the Topten website is tremendous, timely and engaging. There have already been 2.5 million views of HACKS webpages resulting in approximately 145 million interactions via online, printed and social media sites. Further, 223 partnerships have been established with stakeholders. Motivating consumers to switch to more energy-efficient heating and cooling appliances will accelerate the market transformation, with immense energy and cost savings for consumers and a drastic reduction in emissions for all.
HACKS, energy, cooling, heating, appliances, Topten, market transformation, database, radiator, heat pump