16 July 2021

Tackling fuel poverty with innovative technology

ALIenergy and Connected Response are working together to reduce heating bills and improve the heating experience of Oban’s residents. To achieve this, Connected Response’s HeatSage technology is being offered for installation in properties across the town.

Oban was ​​​​selected as nearly 60% of households have electric storage heating and feedback from the Local Energy Plan indicated that people were unhappy with both the cost of their heating and the comfort provided. Currently available domestic energy tariffs give consumers little control over when their storage heating is charged, with the vast majority limited to night-time charging. In addition, Oban's elderly demographic and maritime climate with mild winters and cool summers, means that most homes require some level of heating every day of the year. All of which results in many households relying on costly supplementary heating, such as convector or fan heaters, in the late afternoon and evening to remain warm.  Average heating bills are, therefore, higher than for many other regions in the UK.

ALIenergy has been recruiting households in the town that will take part in the HeatSage project, which is co-funded by the Scottish Government’s Community and Renewable Energy Scheme (CARES), Centrica's Energy for Tomorrow fund and Connected Response. The project will monitor both the impact on heating bills and the comfort levels of those taking part.

Lynda Mitchell, ALIenergy’s Chief Executive:

“We have now recruited most of the ninety homes that will take part in the HeatSage project. Oban has a variety of tenures including owner occupiers, private rental, and social housing, and we have a cross-section of properties in the study”.

The HeatSage technology intelligently manages electric storage heaters, deciding when to charge the heaters based on the residents’ desired comfort levels at different times of the day, the ambient temperature in the living room and the next day’s weather forecast. The net result is a much better heating experience for households and, in the vast majority of cases, lower bills. 

The first HeatSage devices will be installed this summer. From ALIenergy’s perspective it is vitally important that the outcomes from the project are monitored so the success can be evaluated. One of the ways this is happening is by analysing energy bills before and after installation of the HeatSage technology. This means noting residents’ energy consumption data before and during the project. However, analysis of the energy consumption data will be more complex than it may initially seem: it’s not simply a case of saving money. Some households currently don’t switch on their storage heaters at all because of the cost. In such cases, improvement will be felt more in terms of their heating comfort.

The Oban HeatSage project extends the reach of HeatSage technology and is a ‘fuel poverty project with an innovative twist’. It also has potential to tie in with other ALIenergy projects including community energy and renewable energy initiatives.

Kenny Cameron, Connected Response’s Managing Director:

‘The ALIenergy team are an inspiring group of people. It is a real privilege to be working with them on this innovative project. HeatSage technology is already working effectively in high-rise and medium-rise social housing in cities such as Glasgow and London. The Oban project gives us the opportunity to show that the benefits of HeatSage are as accessible to residents in small towns as they are to those living in tower blocks.’

Click here for more information on the HeatSage technology and this innovative project.


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