Envirotec

Scheme pilots district heating monitoring in social housing

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A wireless hub in each dwelling lets tenants monitor energy use, cost and carbon emissions via a colour touch screen, and the information is relayed to the landlord’s energy provider.

LONDON-based housing association Octavia Housing has teamed up with green energy specialist Guru Systems for a project that will use the latter’s smart metering system to monitor how efficiently the district heating system is working at a housing development in Wembley.

The system, which is being piloted at Octavia’s Elizabeth House development, aims to allow landlords to check that their district heating networks are operating efficiently and that they are charging the right tariff to customers, reducing their financial risk.
In most cases landlords will set tariffs based on the expected performance of the system – not on real world data that shows how well the network is actually working. This means that if initial assumptions are inaccurate, or there is a sudden dip in efficiency through a fault in the network, the landlord could lose money every time a tenant turns on the heating.
“If the heating networks are not accurately measured and there are inefficiencies, every time someone turns on their heating the landlord could be losing money,” says Guru’s Casey Cole, who cites a recent case where a landlord lost £65,000 in the first year on a 100- home scheme.

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At the Elizabeth House scheme, each of the 115 flats in the tower block is fitted with a special wireless hub, which in turn is connected to the heat meter in the dwelling, and measures usage in individual homes. Each hub has a touch screen offering real-time information to the tenant on energy use, cost and carbon emissions.
The hub works as a pre-pay device and smart meter, meaning that tenants will no longer have to use cards that are topped up at local shops. Instead they can top-up via phone, internet, SMS or direct debit.
Every Hub in the building is connected via a wireless mesh network to measure heating usage across the block as well as performance of the central plant.
This information is then sent via the internet to the landlord’s metering and billing provider, Insite Energy, which gets a real-time view of system efficiency.

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