Being a tech nerd and at the same time being environmentally conscious is not at all as contradictory as people might think. Joakim Ambrosson's greatest interest in life is nature and the environment, which is one of the main reasons he started using smart home gadgets to reduce his energy consumption and therefore climate impact.
"Smart technology helps me to live energy-smart at the same time as it makes my everyday life easier". Joakim Ambrosson is living proof that environmental awareness and passion for modern technology goes hand in hand. By making (environmentally) conscious choices in renovations, and having smart home gadgets, Joakim has reduced his electricity consumption by 22,000 kWh in annual consumption since they moved into their house in Danderyd in 2018.
🐿 Smart devices inside – animals outside
Joakim who's both a biologist and a geologist was very determined to transform his house built in 1932 to an environmental class A house. He cares a lot about the world he will one day leave behind to his children. The house is stacked with smart home devices that reduce its energy consumption and make it smart and intuitive. Outside the house, rare sand bees are welcomed to the family's bee hotel, carp fishes and water lilies fill the newly built pond, and the squirrel that comes by daily is fed with expensive and ecological hazelnuts in his own little squirrel house. "It's definitely spoiled", says Joakim and laughs.
📉 From a consumption of 33000 kWh to 11000 kWh in a year
When I met Joakim on the driveway to his house in Danderyd, he'd just brought his daughter Tilde to bed. From the back of the lot we heard a rumbling sound and Joakim explained that they're working on an extension of the house that he refers to as "the hole" – it swallows a lot of money. Since Joakim and his wife Gunilla moved into the house, they've made both big and small changes to it. The newest additions are the 48 solar panels that have just been installed on both sides on the roof of the garage. Joakim proudly says that they'll soon not pay a single penny for the electricity in the house. He will get a built-in screen installed next to the mailbox for every neighbour to see his solar data. He wants people walking by to be able to see that the house is driven by the sun and exactly how much he produces for them to be inspired to get solar panels themselves.
☀️ “Being able to produce energy for your home yourself is incredible. My heart skipped a beat when I saw that I was pushing energy into the grid as well."
When the couple bought the villa, it had direct electric heating, something they quickly decided to replace with geothermal heating. They also installed a water-jacketed stove which, unlike a regular stove that normally radiates 100% of the heat directly into the room, instead stores and distributes 70% of the heat throughout the house thanks to the geothermal heat pump. The couple has also additionally insulated their attic and installed an FTX unit that provides a heat recovery of around 80%. They also replaced a lot of ancient domestic appliances with energy-efficient versions that only need a quarter of electricity compared to the old stuff. "You have to make thoughtful decisions regarding changing old appliances," says Joakim, as it's not directly environmentally friendly to buy new.
🍀 Takes a conscious responsibility to trigger the market – environment first, then design
All choices Joakim makes, he tries to put environmental awareness as a first priority, and design as a second. He always looks at the environmental classification of products and is more than happy to pay a little extra to ensure that it has as little environmental impact as possible. It should always be an environmental class A +++, says Joakim. (Swedish quality stamp.) If you can afford to put the extra few tens of euros, I see it as a social responsibility to take. Mainly for the obvious reasons and our planet but also for the market to see that there's a demand for it so that more brands are triggered to go in the same direction with their products.
💰 Tibber Bonus – became a sport
Geologist, biologist, Tibberologist? Joakim is proud to be one of the Swedish markets leading customers when it comes to inviting friends to Tibber. (Instead of annoying telemarketers Tibber has decided against them and has a bonus system where customers who invite their friends and family get 50 euros to spend in Tibber's webshop*). Thanks to the bonus system, Joakim has been able to get a lot of smart home gadgets – completely free. He admits that it has almost become a sport as he thinks it's so fun to recruit people to something he believes so strongly in. He has invited neighbours, friends and even one or two strangers on the train. “It's so much fun to both inspire and teach people how to make their homes energy smart with the help of a digital electricity company and smart home products. A neighbour got his electricity bill down by 1500 kronor just by switching the energy company, guess if he's happy today!”
*Tibber Store currently available in Sweden, Norway and Germany.
Joakim's top 5 smart home gadgets (in no particular order)
Netatmo Weather station
I started studying meteorology once but then stopped, now I have been able to live out those dreams a little again! Jokes aside, it's really great for me to keep track of local weather, wind and rain straight on my phone. In addition, I now keep track of the air quality inside the houses, something that felt extra important when we had children. In fact, thanks to Netatmo, we discovered that we had alarmingly high carbon dioxide levels in the guesthouse – something we were able to easily correct by improving the ventilation. So thanks, Netatmo!
It just works. So well. My Easee runs only 200 kWh per month, so it has basically been free of charge as I smart charge my car when electricity prices are at their lowest. Before, I charged via cable, so I have probably moved 30% of the charging to low-cost times. That’s a lot!
Watty – my favourite!
This was the starting shot that really made me understand how fun electricity can be and also gave me a whole new insight into the amount of electricity certain appliances and gadgets use around the house. It becomes so easy and fun when you can just turn off a lamp, stove or hand drill and watch the consumption curve go down.
I bought Ngenic mainly to be able to control the temperature indoors as I lacked the internet module on the ground source heat pump. But also to be able to take advantage of the balancing as the temperature is balanced a lot earlier if you have more types of input data. The vacation mode is really great to be able to save kWh: it's gold!
I'm very excited about Homey and hope it lives up to the name! I haven't had time to unpack it from the box yet, but I am very much looking forward to playing with it. Homey will tie together all the devices I have in my home. I think many people have different clusters of smart home gadgets without having an overview of them, and then I think the probability of the units becoming dust collectors is increasingly high. Buying things for the sake of it is a waste of both capital and the environment. Homey communicates with most of the smart products you can have in your home!
👨🏻💻 Tibber became more than Joakim's electricity company – he started a forum to help others
After a few months and with dozens of friends and family who also joined Tibber, Joakim always got a lot of curious questions. Joakim then started the Swedish Facebook group "Tibber elbolag - anvandarforum" (EN: Tibber energy company - user forum) where he spends a few minutes daily to answer questions or be helpful in various ways. He uses his own electricity bills and tech-solutions as examples for others. “I would call myself a bit of a Tibber professional. I know most things. Now I have some "helpers" who write as much as I do, I can eventually put them as administrators, ”says Joakim and smiles.
Joakim's best tips to reducing your electricity bill
💡 Change your lights! I have saved 90% on the lighting just by switching to LED. I've chosen to have Philips Hue everywhere, even outdoors, so I can control everything directly from my phone. A big advantage is also that you won't have to change them so often as they last up to 50,000 hours. In the Tibber app you can see what you spend the most energy on in your home. If you want to go even further, you should get a real-time meter like Watty* or Pulse that shows precisely what consumes electricity in your home. You can then easily spot appliances that use an unreasonable amount of power!
🌬 Check the ventilation, there is a big potential in saving energy! Seal with mouldings and insulate properly.
🌡 Do you really need to have 22 degrees (Celcius) as your indoor temperature? No, you do not. Reduce it to at least 20, and you save about 5% per degree! (Read more about what a reduction of only one degree would do here!)
🧭 If you have electrically powered underfloor heating, you should set a timer for it (or use smart heating, editor's note) because it also uses an enormous amount of energy.
🧖🏼♂️🧖🧖Take shorter showers! Hot water is the by far most expensive thing to heat up. The warmer the water, the more energy is needed to actually heat it up, and then it literally just goes down the drain. Oh and here's a cozy idea, take showers together!
🍦 Then I would say, if you have the opportunity, switch to Tibber*. If I can be straightforward and cheesy?
Yes, Joakim, you may. 😎
*Tibber's smart energy deal is currently available in Sweden, Norway and Germany.