The heating of office buildings, schools and public facilities is not only a significant cost factor. It is also an environmental issue. What is needed are solutions that reduce energy consumption without compromising on temperature and comfort.
The challenge: Saving energy without compromising comfort
Until now, saving energy and reducing heating costs simply meant to lower the room temperature. From the perspective of the operator of a building, this is logical. For the user, however, it means a significant loss of comfort.
What is needed, therefore, is a heating system that offers more than just time-controlled adjustment of the temperature. A system that thinks and adapts to the habits of the users of a building. An intelligent heating control that knows exactly when a room is being used and then automatically provides a temperature that feels comfortable.
The solution: Precisely regulating instead of simply switching on and off
Christoph Berger studied energy engineering at the Technical University of Hamburg. Lasse Stehnken has a Master in Automotive Software Engineering. Both were thinking about heating schools, offices and administration buildings and came to the conclusion that there had to be something more intelligent than time-controlled switching the heating system on and off. They also got Christian Brase on board, who takes care of the economic side of the startup with his Master of Economics.
The startup VILISTO, founded by the three, resides in the premises of TUTECH in Hamburg Harburg, where it is supported by renowned coaches and accompanied in its development.
Over the year, 80% of the rooms in an office building are not used. About the same applies to a school or university. The makers behind VILISTO considered how to adapt the heating to this situation without having to install a costly infrastructure.
The solution is Ovis, the intelligent heating controller that simply replaces the existing radiator actuators in the room. Ovis is an intelligent heating controller and a typical example of the Internet of Things. It responds to movement, sound and light and thus recognizes how the space is being used. When is this working time? When is closing time? On which days does the room remain completely unused? The controller collects this information and sets the room temperature automatically.
All of this happens fully automatically, without anyone having to program anything. If the employees of a company arrive at the office at eight o’clock in the morning, the heating system will start beforehand. If no one is in the room, it will be automatically shut down. Overnight, on weekends or during school holidays, the radiators provide only the heat that prevents the building from cooling down.
All required control logic is contained in Shepherd, an inconspicuous controller that communicates wirelessly with up to 20 Ovis controllers. Shepherd processes the information collected by Ovis using self-learning algorithms and additionally incorporates the current weather report. The result is a fully automatic heating control system that uses artificial intelligence to save energy and costs without the temperature in the individual rooms being perceived as too high or too low.
Potential: Intelligent heating control for retrofitting
After the founding of VILISTO in 2016, a beta series of intelligent heating control systems was developed and tested under different conditions. Since the beginning of 2018, the product has been ready for the market. Design and production of the individual components are carried out exclusively by companies in the greater Hamburg region.
Since 2018, VILISTO has been expanding its sales structure in order to market its intelligent heating control as a first step throughout Germany.