“Thinking Energy” Smart Home Trial is Extended

E.ON and Milton Keynes Council has announced a one year extension to the energy efficiency programme, Thinking Energy.

E.ON and Milton Keynes Council have extended the testing of innovative smart home technologies in their Thinking Energy trial. This follows E.ON's announcement that it has extended its European partnership with GreenWave Reality for smart home solutions.

Handing control to the consumer

Thinking Energy, a joint interactive trial between E.ON and Milton Keynes Council, was established in 2011. It involves 75 family homes in Milton Keynes. The aim of the trial is to develop and test innovative ways to manage energy consumption in the home. The idea is that homeowners will benefit from improved comfort, convenience and cost savings.

Trial participants have access to energy data via a web browser, tablet or smartphone application on-the-go. The easy and convenient access to data is making it easier for customers to understand and control their energy consumption.

Technologies offering more convenience

Participants can now look forward to even more convenience with the following internet-connected technologies:

1.Connected lighting

Participants will be able to control lighting throughout their homes at the touch of a button via a mobile device and simply activate an ‘out’ smart control to turn off all the lights in their home when they go out, rather than having to go from room to room. Smart controls will also allow people to customise their lighting so they can set lights to come on automatically at dusk and go off at dawn.

All these features are delivered through controllable, dimmable LED lamps which typically use about 80% less energy than equivalent incandescent or halogen lamps.

2. Intelligent boiler controls

Participants will be able to save energy by using intelligent heating controls which can set different temperatures at different times of day - maximising comfort whilst reducing gas bills. At the same time, a remote control allows them to adjust their settings to avoid waste when their plans for the day change. The intelligent controller will also put an end to coming back from holiday to a cold house with no hot water for that much-needed shower.

3. Room-by-room heating

The Thinking Energy trial will also explore room-by-room heating controls, to allow participants to ensure that each room is heated according to need. Bedrooms can be heated early in the morning and late at night, lounge and living rooms maintained at a constant comfort level, and heating in the spare bedroom turned off when no-one’s visiting.

These additional smart home technologies will provide greater visibility and build on the technologies already installed in the participants’ homes, based on Greenwave Reality’s 'Home2Cloud' platform. This technology includes Home Energy Management Systems which monitor electricity and gas consumption by using smart meters, and smart plugs which monitor and control the use of individual appliances such as TVs, PCs, washing machines and fridges.

Cutting energy costs

Chris Rimmer, Programme Manager for E.ON’s Thinking Energy project, says that E.ON is dedicated to driving innovation to help their customers control their energy. He adds that ground breaking technology is playing a key role in achieving this goal.

He expands: “Nearly two-thirds of people in our trial view their Home Energy Management technologies as a necessary part of their life and this is just the beginning. With the advancements around the ‘Internet of Things,’ we'll continue to develop technology which is focused on what our customers want and need to gain greater visibility into and control of their energy use.”

Cllr David Hopkins, Milton Keynes Council's Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member responsible for Economic Development and Enterprise, said: "This project is crucial in enabling people in Milton Keynes to use their energy smartly and significantly cut their associated costs. In times where people are managing on tight budgets and reducing the carbon footprint is a priority, this is clearly a 'win-win' situation."

The Thinking Energy trial will now run until summer 2015.

Energy efficiency a priority

With the UK heat sector accounting for nearly half of the nation’s energy consumption, energy efficiency has a huge role to play in reducing energy demand.

Energy efficiency seems to be at the top of the government’s list at the moment-it has just re-released its Green Deal programme which promises to reward homeowners up to 7600 British Pounds for improving their homes’ energy efficiency.