SSH1: How Can People Get The Heat They Want At Home, Without The Carbon?

Published: 12 February 2018

Introduction

Decarbonising heat is the biggest challenge the UK faces in terms of transforming the energy system to meet carbon reduction targets and achieve our clean growth ambitions.

Energy Systems Catapult delivered the UK’s largest smart, consumer-focused project aimed at overcoming the barriers to the decarbonisation of residential heat – the Smart Systems and Heat (SSH) programme.

 SSH Phase 1 (2014-2017) focused on developing capabilities, tools and insights for Local Energy System Modelling and Domestic Energy Services and was delivered by the Energy Systems Catapult for the Energy Technologies Institute.

 

Key points

Research revealing that consumers care more about their experience of using heat, than how it is delivered. From enjoying a hot shower to using heat to relieve pain, many consumers are initially unaware of the value that heat is adding to their lives. People care more about their experience of using heat what the type of device (eg. gas boiler, district heat, electric heat pump) is delivering the heat. We explored how the smart technology can help energy providers understand what consumers want from heating, turning passive bill-payers into discerning customers.

Insights include:

  • We found 2/3 of households report suffering at least one of these problems – draughts, damp, mould and overheating (even in winter).
  • Few consumers realise how much they value using heat to improve their health, relationships and property. Most rely on heat to relieve aches, host guests or prevent pipes freezing.
  • Yet many endure problems to avoid the hassle, disruption and challenge of tackling them.
  • We found people care far more about their heating experiences than how the heat is delivered. Yet varied in which experiences they valued and how much they wanted to spend on them.
  • Virtually no-one presently knows all of their heating upgrade options or which they think are worth the cost.
  • Every home needs upgrading in different ways to deliver these experiences without emitting carbon. It is technically challenging to design solutions that will work well, and each home has unique features.
  • Most consumers liked the idea of buying a service, like a warm home, rather than kWh of fuel and a boiler, controlled from a smart home technology.
  • They would prefer to be able to trust these energy services providers to simplify this complexity of selecting and installing an upgraded low carbon heating solutions, as long as they could still control their experiences.