SSH2: Industry insight – The delight of better control

Published: 8 August 2019

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 is delivering 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 2 (2017-2019) focused on running consumer trials of smart energy services, exploring new business models and market structures (including interoperability) and developing Local Area Energy Plans within three local authorities areas. SSH2 was funded by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

 

Energy Systems Catapult research has shown that giving people better control over their heating can help them get much more comfortable and open the door to cutting carbon.

Over the last few winters, we created a Living Lab that gave 100 households the power to control the temperature of each room in their home from their smartphone. People loved having better control, though they used it in very different ways. The choices they made about how they wanted to heat their homes showed us lots of ways to give them better experiences from their heating.

This insight paper explains how digital technology can keep us warm at home, as well as cut carbon emissions.

Key points

  • People find their heating controls confusing and hard to use. Around two thirds of households have problems with drafts, damp, overheating, or something else. Most put up with a below par heating experience because they don’t know how to improve it.
  • In our Living Lab trials, different people valued different things when it came to their heating, but improving control seemed to benefit everyone.
  • When we gave people better controls, they chose to use less heating, without sacrificing their comfort. Nearly everyone chose to heat fewer rooms, with 85% deciding to heat less than half of their home. However, they did so for very different reasons.