UK research and development body the Energy Technologies Institute (ETI) announced this week it will invest GBP4.9 million in developing a customer-orientated home energy management system (HEMS) over the next two years.
The institute, which is a private-public partnership, said it is seeking to create a HEMS that has mass market appeal.
ETI said that its research highlights that HEMS should be a key component of a future smart energy system, but given the fact that most consumers do not willingly engage with their energy system, any product solutions need to be consumer focused to be effective.
ETI confirmed it has appointed a UK product design and development company to lead the project with a pilot test beginning in Q4 2016 and Q1 2017.
Results will be analysed to give an insight into consumer patterns, their electricity and gas use and the building and heating system performance.
HEMS to help cut emissions
The initiative falls under ETI's Smart Systems and Heat programme, which aims to make energy and heat consumption more consumer focused in order to meet the UK's legally binding 2050 climate change targets, explains Donna Gandy-Wright, project manager, Smart Systems and Heat at ETI.
Ms Gandy-Wright said: "Around 20% of the nation’s carbon emissions are generated by domestic heating and around 90% of the 26 million homes around today are expected to be still in use in 2050.
"However, fewer than 4% of homes have low carbon heating and 90% prefer gas central heating given the choice.
Gandy-Wright said ETI's research shows that few people care enough to change how they heat their homes simply because of emissions.
She said: "Consumers want to optimise their heating systems before replacing them. The HEMS project is designed to provide consumers with a range of solutions that provides better control of how they use energy in their homes as well as providing industry compelling propositions and business models for the future.”
ETI research paper
ETI’s report 'Decarbonising Heat for UK Homes' identifies two main potential pathways to cutting residential carbon emissions – local area schemes delivering low carbon heat through heat networks, along with individual home systems using electricity for heating.