What if you could, without compromising comfort, reduce your heating bill by 40 per cent?
Given the grey, wintry landscape currently residing outdoors, this proposition is nothing less than compelling. Well, up-and-coming Finnish company Opti Automation can do just this, thanks to its home automation solution for houses with electric heating systems known as OptiWatti.
The secret is cutting out redundant heating: OptiWatti monitors room temperature constantly, adjusting it throughout the day based on the preferences defined by the user. These can be set not only for different times of the day, but also for each room individually.
This makes saving electricity easy, as the room temperature can be set up, for example, to decrease by a couple of degrees in the daytime when the house is empty, or in the sitting room overnight when everyone is asleep. The system is also aware of electricity price fluctuations and can prioritise cheaper hours.
Thanks to these features, OptiWati pays itself back in two to three years on average, according to CEO and co-founder Juha Marjeta. “Typically our customers are astounded when they realise how much you can save.”
Compared to automated systems, houses with manually adjustable heating tend to have less than optimal room temperatures, especially as it is easy to get used to the temperature being off by a couple of degrees. “Even a little extra warmth can have a big impact on your electricity bill,” Marjeta says.
“It’s much easier to have control when everything is centralised on one interface, and when all you need to do is set the temperatures and times, and the system takes care of the rest,” he continues. “Our principle is that automation should always make things easier, not more complicated.”
Marjeta says that OptiWatti grew out of his own needs: “I got tired of adjusting thermostats manually in our home, and started looking for a centralised solution. I couldn’t find anything affordable, so together with a partner we ended up launching the firm and started to develop such a product.”
The first OptiWatti products entered the market in 2015, and since then it has gained many additional functions, such as control of air source heat pumps and hot water heaters, and water leak monitors. OptiWatti can also manage car heating, taking into account weather forecast in calculating when to start the heating.
Growth in leaps and bounds
By all accounts, the marketplace has welcomed OptiWatti enthusiastically: the company’s turnover is growing at a rate of 400 per cent annually, while its number of staff has grown from the original two to 11. Moreover, Opti Automation plans to hire 13 more people this year.
Such growth is being recognised: at last year’s Kasvu Open, a business growth competition, Opti Automation took home the Energy Sector Business Growth Prize and the Gaselli award for the fastest growth, in addition to winning the general Start-Up category.
In the short term, the company has set its eyes on the Swedish market, while an expansion in Northern Europe is further on the horizon.
For the ambitious company, the growing home automation trend offers opportunities far beyond heating.
“One future trend is electric car charging, so that the car is charged when electricity is cheap,” Marjeta says, adding that the firm has also other developments in the pipeline. “With OptiWatti, we have a solid primary product, and we can develop many interesting things on it.”
Right now, the biggest challenge for OptiWatti is publicity.
“Most people don’t know that heating can be automated like this, and often the first reaction when people hear about us is that it can’t be possible,” Marjeta says. “This is typically followed by: How come no one has come up with the idea before!”