School of Informatics

Major grant to reduce energy use and cost in homes

The £2.15M grant project named IDEAL will develop an "Intelligent Domestic Energy Advice Loop" to help dwelling occupants to save energy and money.

Major grant to reduce energy use and cost in homes

An interdisciplinary team are developing new methods to help reduce domestic carbon emissions and tackle fuel-poverty

Reducing energy demand from existing dwellings through behavioural change is crucial for meeting UK carbon emission reduction targets. Homes account directly for 32% of UK energy consumption, and corresponding carbon emissions.

A focus on existing dwellings is essential: 80% of the dwellings that will be in place in the UK in 2050 are already built. Attention to behaviour change is important - behavioural differences are estimated to account for 60% of the variance in demand. Demand related to heat is key - 80% of domestic energy demand is for heating.

Photo: ? Steven Depolo. Used under a creative commons licence

Positive feedback to save energy

Advice to householder will be of the form: "Last week you spent £10 on hot water for showers", or "Yesterday you spent 4 on heating your flat, if you turned off the heating at night you would probably have only spent £3 - you could save around £250 a year by doing this". The IDEAL project's main goal is to construct an enhanced feedback loop which provides information to householders not just on their energy consumption, but also on for which activities they are using energy. This details how much for each type of activity, together with suggestions for what they might do to reduce their energy expenditure.

The IDEAL project could make a real positive impact at an individual and societal level – helping households to save money and contributing to UK carbon targets.

Dr Nigel Goddard(Institute of Adaptive and Neural Computation, UoE)

Advanced Informatics contributes to UK carbon targets

The feedback loop will use small unobtrusive wireless sensors in the dwellings to record data and transmit it over the internet to a large secure database, where it will be analysed and used to generate automatically advice to householders, provided on wireless tablets in their home. The wireless sensors will be designed in the School of Informatics Speckled Computing Lab, the analyses will be performed by the School’s Machine Learning Group, and the feedback will be generated by the School’s Intelligent Tutoring group.

If the intelligent advice loop is effective in helping people to reduce their energy demand, then there will be a business opportunity for energy suppliers and other companies will start to offer the loop as a service to households to help them keep their energy costs down. This will contribute to reducing energy poverty as well as the challenge of meeting UK 2050 carbon emission targets.

This Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council award, under the Digital Economy theme has been won by to a team including academics from the Schools of Informatics, Social and Political Sciences, and Geosciences, and third sector partners Changeworks and the National Energy Foundation.