Heriot Watt experts pilot smart sensors to help tackle fuel poverty


Researchers from Heriot-Watt University have developed a smart sensor technology that predicts homeowner’s movement and living patterns to help them reduce their energy costs.

The system uses multiple sensors to monitor the living habits of occupants and then creates an advance mathematical formula to predict those habits in order to control when and where in the house the heating should be on.

Dr Edward Owens. Heriot Watt Uni.Dr Edward Owens of the School of Energy, Geoscience, Infrastructure and Society at Heriot Watt, said:

“Elderly people and other vulnerable groups can often have higher energy bills because they don’t understand how to work complicated digital central heating controllers. This system records your habits so it knows over time when different rooms in a home need to be heated and when they don’t.”

The new system is 99% accurate at detecting when a house or building is occupied and developers claim it will be commercially available within two years. It has the potential to save millions of pounds in energy costs across the UK by creating much more efficient home heating solutions.

The next phase is a collaboration with Tree Green Ltd to advance the technology.

Owens added:     

“We hope to merge our occupancy sensor with TreeGreen’s technology to produce the EnergyEgg2 which will see our smart sensor technology communicate directly with central heating controls.”

James Shirazi, Director of Investment and Regeneration with Dumfries & Galloway Housing, said:

“Elderly people, and other vulnerable groups, are often overlooked when it comes to technological advancements and are increasingly in danger of falling into fuel poverty.

“They also tend to spend more time at home than other groups which is why this sensor, with built-in smart controllers, will help them better control their heating – ultimately saving money in the process.”

Norman Kerr, Director, Energy Action Scotland said:

“Sensors with built-in smart controllers are an exciting new approach and one that will hopefully assist older and more vulnerable people to better control their heating and save money in the process, ultimately helping to tackle fuel poverty.

”With funding from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, the technology has been piloted by elderly residents living in social housing in Dumfries and Galloway, where 38.5% of households lived in fuel poverty between 2009 and 2011.


Pictured is Dr Edward Owens of the School of Energy, Geoscience, Infrastructure and Society at Heriot Watt University

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