The people behind a new smart system for controlling electric heating and household appliances claim it has the potential to save landlords £160 a year on bills.
The system, which is still in the research phase, would allow people to take advantage of complex energy tariff structures by automating their use of electrical appliances and electric heat pumps to shift electricity usage to periods of low grid demand, when tariffs are cheaper.
A two-year trial of the system, called the Optimised Forecasting for Switching Energy Tariffs project (OFfSET), found that consumers could save between £13 and £26 per year for each electrical appliance tested, while heat pumps could save up to £160 per year.
The project was a collaboration between Samsung, smart energy platform Passiv UK, energy comparison site MyUtilityGenius and built environment experts at the Building Research Establishment.
Under the project, Passiv UK also developed a means of predicting heating demand for a home and determining when heating could operate to achieve the required comfort levels while avoiding traditional peak demand times.
This fed into the MyUtilityGenius predictive tariff switching model to assess how this could bring savings via Time of Use tariffs.
The automation and optimisation process was trialled in a selection of homes during the project, with feedback from households independently assessed by BRE’s social scientists.
Pre-heating the home during periods of cheaper electricity (corresponding to less grid demand) allowed consumers to reduce the need for the heating to be on during times of traditionally high grid demand (morning and early evening peaks).
The next stage of the project will see further refinements to how electrical appliances are optimised to run at the lowest cost, while there will also be developments to allow the predictive tariff switching function to become part of the MyUtilityGenius tariff comparison service for customers.
Caroline Weeks, a principal consultant at BRE, says: “The OFfSET solution provides a win-win opportunity to alleviate peak pressures on the electricity grid while offering households potential to save on energy bills without compromising comfort and without having to particularly change their lifestyle.
“The optimisations work out when it is best to run the heating or run appliances to meet the household’s requirements in the most cost-effective way. During the trials, users adapted quickly to the automated changes in routines and were very positive about the approach.”
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