Connected Response Heatsage technology trial in Oban

Bob and Margaret Batty are probably the ideal candidates to trial Connected Response’s HeatSage technology. They have embraced a number of technologies to significantly reduce the heating and hot water costs on their bungalow in Oban.

A marine biologist, prior to his retirement Bob worked for the Scottish Association for Marine Science (SAMS) advising on the impact of tidal stream turbines on sea life. Retirement has not dimmed Bob’s intellectual pursuits and he is Chairman of the Oban u3a (University of the Third Age) Committee.

Bob and Margaret’s energy journey started in earnest when they switched from the Total Heat Total Control tariff to Domestic Economy 10. To optimise the potential benefit of the new tariff, they recognised they needed a larger hot water tank. After researching the available options, they purchased a Mixergy hot water tank.

The Mixergy tank was initially conceived by two engineers at Oxford University in the mid 2010s, winning them the prestigious Climate-KIC prize. The tank has been further developed thanks to investment from a range of sources including Centrica Innovations Funding. The attraction of the Mixergy tank is that it heats only the volume of water you need (volumetric heating), heats faster than conventional tanks, and can be controlled through an app or via a smart home device.

In August 2022, Bob and Margaret installed an array of solar panels on the roof of their home. The panels are linked to a Growatt solar battery:

‘In warm weather, the panels save a considerable amount of money on electricity bills. For example, on August 26th last year we generated 26kW/h in a single day.’

The primary heat source for the bungalow is electric storage heating (ESH). At the start of lockdown, Margaret’s mother moved in. Whilst it is typically considered impolite to mention a woman’s age, Margaret’s mother is 102 years young. Keeping the property warm throughout the day, therefore, became an even greater priority than before:

‘At one stage we were looking into the viability of installing a heat pump. Then I received a leaflet from Lynda Mitchell, manager at ALIenergy, offering the opportunity to take part in a trial of the Connected Response HeatSage technology.’

David Stern is Connected Response’s Customer Engagement Manager and responsible for the ALIenergy trial:

‘As might be expected, lockdown significantly impeded our ability to roll-out the ALIenergy trial as we would have liked and we are still working hrough installs..... In Bob and Margaret’s case, we installed the HeatSage smart load control switch in their meter cabinet and the temperature/humidity sensor in their living room.’

HeatSage takes advantage of the Economy 10 tariff’s three charging windows – three hours in the early morning, four hours in the evening, three hours in the afternoon. It enables Bob and Margaret’s ESH to be charged in line with their heating preferences within the intelligent context of the current temperature in their living room and the next day’s local weather forecast.

Bob and Margaret have been closely monitoring the impact of the HeatSage technology on their heating experience and their bills:

‘One of the things that has struck me most when using new technology in the middle of an energy crisis is the impact of the tariff. It has been great to have an Economy 10 tariff, with an off-peak afternoon charge for our heaters, but the large fluctuations in the off-peak rate since the Spring of 2022 have been a concern.

I understand these fluctuations are due to how suppliers have interpreted an Ofgem instruction regarding the peak/off-peak tariff balance. If this is so, I would suggest that Ofgem considers setting stricter guidelines for suppliers to ensure the off-peak tariff remains significantly lower than the peak tariff. The current tariff rollercoaster has a significant impact on the typical West Highlands household with electric storage heating, the majority of whom are already in fuel poverty. 

In the coming months, Margaret and I are looking forward to trialling the HeatSage app, which should give us greater visibility and control of the technology. I appreciate that, for many people who are not so technically minded, the HeatSage technology would provide considerable peace of mind that their heating requirements are being optimised at lowest cost.’

Kenny Cameron is Managing Director of Controlled Response:

‘The feedback we receive from Bob and Margaret, and the seven thousand other households using our technology, is vital. Our objective is to continuously improve the heating experience of our users by refining and improving our HeatSage technology. The new app is just one example of this philosophy in action.’