By Philippa Kennedy
German metering manufacturer Techem is teaching developers how to share energy costs and save money. Philippa Kennedy speaks to Hans Altmann, regional manager Middle East & North Africa.
German metering manufacturer Techem is teaching developers how to share energy costs and save money.
speaks to Hans Altmann, regional manager Middle East & North Africa.
In an increasingly 'green' Middle Eastern world the conservation of energy has suddenly moved up a gear. With new regulations coming into force at the beginning of the year, developers must now conform to certain standards as regards the environment and the buildings that they are creating.
The buzzwords are 'recycling', 'solar panels', 'green rating' and just about anything else that prevents waste and switches people on to the need to be less cavalier with electricity, water, gas and other resources.
The wonder is that it has taken the business world so long to take on board a simple equation - the less you use, the less you should pay. As the new laws kick in, however, they will be forced to, which is why German firm Techem is poised and ready with their metering technology.
The company offers installed radio metering devices which allow residents' heating consumption to be measured and billed individually.
Techem is already market leader at home in Germany and operates in more than countries across the world. They have become particularly successful in Turkey where ‘green' legislation has also been brought in and where meters are now required by law. Now they are bringing their 50 years of experience in metering and billing services to the Arab region, having set up offices in Dubai last summer.
Regional manager Hans Altmann explained: "People are looking at how not to use too much energy. With accurate data and very good software as well as a fair and transparent bill you can cut your costs by as much as 20%. What we offer is a solution for the consumer to implement this principle and we help the client to have an incentive to save. Natural resources are becoming scarce all over the world and thus ever more precious.
Techem has developed state-of-the-art technology that enables people to monitor their energy consumption. In the UAE the system is radio-based which means that water meters can be read without anyone entering your home or offices. The same technology can be applied to gas and electricity.
Egyptian-born Mr Altmann says: "You need to allocate costs. Somebody needs to pay for what is used and there are currently various ways of doing this. You can allocate the costs by square metre but that wouldn't be fair.
"You might work in an office building where you don't pay for your consumption. It's added to your service charge. But then you don't have an incentive to save. You don't care.
"At home where I live, I pay for my own electricity bill and water bill so I really do care about turning off the tap and I don't leave the light on if no one is in the room.
"You could put a SIM card in your meter but it doesn't make sense. It's too expensive and not reliable. Once the consumer has an incentive to save, we can make it easier for them by implementing the pay for use model.
Altmann's job now is to spread the word and convince developers that Techem can save them, and their customers, money in the long run. The company provides the meters, installs and services them and creates individual bills that allocate the costs fairly and accurately. "This is the framework of our business to save energy and get rewarded.
"We aim to build trust between the utility provider and the facility manager and the end user. We are the link between the three because at the end of the day we make everyone happy.
He insists that Techem's metering systems are safe and easy to use and the company's extensive experience in collecting the data has shown them that energy behaviour improves when the system is used because people become more conscious of how they are using water, electricity and gas and how much it is costing. In the Arab world where the safety and privacy of women is a particularly important issue, the reading of meters from outside a building is an essential factor.
We don't even have to enter the apartment - the security of women is an issue here - worrying about letting strangers in. We can also check meters for leakage and theft.
"We know that with other systems you can bypass meters by putting a magnet on them. With our system every meter has an identifier so fraud is not possible.
As well as using mobile data collection devices, the company also offers cable communication involving a stationary data collector that automatically transmits information to the billing centre. Techem uses the data it collects from its metering services to research patterns of energy-saving behaviour.
The concept is simple. An electronic device called a heating cost allocator is fixed to every radiator in a building, accurately measuring the heat output of each individual radiator.
The same principle is used for recording water consumption with a hot and/or a cold water meter installed in each apartment. Where there is under-floor heating, meters are installed with an external radio interface.
Techem provides a complete package for a developer, from identifying the best energy-saving plan for a building, to planning the technicalities, installing the systems and maintaining and replacing them. Individual bills are carefully laid out and easy to understand. From the point of view of the occupant, the devices are easy to read. As well as showing the current figures they also show the previous year's figure on the billing date so that people can see if they are saving.
Says Mr Altmann: "We care about good devices and reliable data transfer technology. It doesn't make any difference if it's gas or water or electricity. Today I met with a mixed-use developer. They need someone to take off some of the workload. We set up the basis for a long-lasting infrastructure for them. We have installed 42 million meters and we know the system works.
• 690,000 clients worldwide
• World market leader in installed radio metering devices
• US$825.6m turnover worldwide
• More than 2,800 employees worldwide
• Subsidiaries in more than 20 countries
• Company founded in 1952