It’s a little over a year since we announced that the Energy Technologies Institute (ETI) had appointed us to lead a £4.9 million home energy management system (HEMS) project. Since then we’ve been working hard, in partnership with ESC (Energy Systems Catapult) and we look forward to sharing details of what has been achieved.

This is visionary work. The UK’s Climate Change Act commits the UK to reducing emissions by at least 80% by 2050 from 1990 levels, while domestic energy accounts for nearly one third of all UK energy use. Our commitments will only be met by developing a sophisticated understanding of how homeowners use energy and by bold deployment of emerging ‘smart’ technologies. HEMS is smart home technology designed to transform our understanding of the home energy we receive and pay for.

On a practical level we’ve developed and deployed a digital service that enable homeowners to set up a detailed, room by room heating schedule. Our system develops a deep understanding of the fabric of people’s homes and how they heat and cool. Heat is then adjusted to achieve the comfort level required and to manage energy use, while tracking costs. The longer term goals are to gain insight into how to better engage consumers in understanding energy, to develop highly discerning customers and to explore new ways of delivering energy services.

Today’s energy companies are often forced to compete on price. They’re seeking new ways for them to be more competitive, more interesting differentiators, a richer relationship with their customers. HEMS can give them the information base on which to offer new services – one vision is for “comfort packages” – with tightly managed risk. For example, future consumers might go beyond the abstract notion of buying kilowatt hours and instead buy a comfort package, perhaps with 100 showers and 750 hours of ‘comfort’ each month.

We’re proud to be working on such an ambitious and multidisciplinary project. Watch this space for an update on our progress.

Richard Leyland