Flexible energy consumption at home – mission possible!

Posted by Karolis Mirinavičius

Energy system flexibility is gaining rapid relevance with the ever-expanding integration of renewable energy sources (RES) and occasional below-zero plummeting electricity prices. Volatile solar and wind generation, coupled with a not-so-volatile green energy demand, poses a challenge for Lithuania's renewable-based energy system.

Apart from key flexibility providers like the Kruonis Pumped Storage Power Plant, Lithuania is quickly approaching a RES saturation point at which the price of electricity drops below zero. This situation causes serious issues for developers and makes investors question the viability of investments in a green and prosperous future. The more flexible local energy demand options there are, the more RES we can install – a simple formula often overlooked by energy system architects, politicians, and society. Flexible energy consumption and a willingness to pay a fair price are as important as the renewable future itself.

It is natural to look for flexibility in obvious places such as hydro power plants, grid batteries, and other large grid-scale infrastructure, but less so in our own energy consumption, including households, businesses, dishwashers, or home heat pumps.

In September, here at Ignitis Group, we launched a two-month internal, employee-focused initiative to evaluate their flexibility at home, and the results were astonishing. We asked employees to participate in one of the three categories and promised great prizes for the winners. These categories involved shifting energy-intensive tasks to:

  • Night-time.
  • Weekends.
  • Lowest price periods.

After a two-month competition, newsletters, and sharing insights and advice among participants, we achieved an unexpected colleague engagement of more than 80% and very positive energy time-shifting results.

The highest achiever in this category was able to shift over 35% of their electricity consumption to night-time when energy is less demanded and cheaper. Some of the most energy-intensive tasks shifted included delaying dishwasher and washing machine operations, as well as using slow cooking methods to prepare food overnight instead of during peak energy demand times. Time-shifting energy consumption to nighttime is a useful, non-demanding habit that may help save on energy costs, save time, and achieve a greener mix of energy consumption. If 1 in 10 households in Lithuania were to achieve similar results, that would amount to around 120GWh of energy shifted from daily peak times to nighttime consumption yearly.

Night-time Category

Weekend category

Energy consumption during weekend times usually has a flatter profile and less demand overall due to closed business and industry operations, however, if possible, to shift some of daily consumption to less burdened weekend hours that would mean less load for the grids and a more stable overall consumption of energy over the week.

This category has presented a top result of over 12% of energy on average shifted from working days to weekend times. As per November 2023 the energy consumption difference between weekdays and weekends in Lithuania was 10% on average so 12% shift is more than needed to evenly consume energy over the week.

Lowest price periods category

Certainly, one of the most demanding ways to be a flexible energy consumer is to actively track the hourly energy price and change consumption habits. Such flexibility habits, however, may help save the largest portion of energy consumption cost and contribute most to energy system needs. For example, the price of energy in the Nordpool market was between the lowest price of -4,4 EUR/MWh to the highest of 500 EUR/MWh and with an average of 102 EUR/MWh.

The winner in this category has achieved the lowest levelized cost of 77,8 EUR/MWh which is a 24% less than average Nordpool price for the period.

Energy cost saving and flexibility - for everyone

Becoming a more flexible energy consumer at home can help you save on energy costs and contribute to a more sustainable energy use. Here are several tips to make your household more energy-efficient and adaptable to energy price variability:

  • Variable energy price tariffs. Choose a variable price tariff (e.g. two or four zone tariff) or even a market related price plan to be able to save on varying energy consumption.
  • Use Ignitis EnergySmart mobile application. Here you can track hourly market energy price and compare your household consumption with similar households.
  • Use a "Delay" function for washing machine, dishwasher and dryer. If possible, set up energy intensive activities for night time or weekends - this is when energy is the cheapest.
  • Use smart plugs. You can set up schedules for heating, lights, water boilers, floor heating and other activities only when you are home or specifically when you need them.
  • Use a microwave or small heater for heating food. Do not use an oven as this is less energy efficient, also prepare some more food over the weekend and store it instead of preparing it during peak energy times - evenings and mornings.

Public initiatives to familiarize household energy consumers with flexible and conscious energy consumption will become more popular with increasing RES in the energy mix. The flexibility initiative is expected to become an yearly tradition at Ignitis supplementing the employee sustainability month activities.

Want to know more? Contact our innovation expert Karolis Mirinavičius – [email protected]

Also Read