Space heating represents the majority (60%) of the total domestic energy consumption in the UK, most of which is supplied by fossil fuels. Improving the thermal efficiency of houses is therefore crucial to reducing both energy bills and carbon emissions.
Many of the policies to reduce future emissions and energy consumption in homes are based on understanding the energy performance of homes. The Standard Assessment Procedure (SAP) is the principal methodology used by the Government to compare and assess the energy performance of dwellings. The thermal energy performance of a building is evaluated by measuring the Heat Transfer Coefficient (HTC). The current best practice to check the HTC is a co-heating test which is obtrusive and costly and requires the home to be unoccupied for around two weeks.
The installation of smart meters combined with advances in data analytics techniques, offers the potential to understand the thermal performance of buildings and how consumers use energy. The EDF R&D UK Centre has been working with the University of Oxford; they have designed a completely non-intrusive measurement alternative to the traditional HTC. This new approach is based on the ‘Deconstruct’ model that was developed during a PhD thesis sponsored by EDF. It can provide a more accurate assessment of the thermal performance of every home in the UK. The project is funded by the UK Government department of Business Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) as part of the Smart Meter Enabled Thermal Efficiency Ratings (SMETER) Innovation Programme.
The project team, with its unique blend of skills covers data science, research and product and service innovation, have developed the new method and packaged it as an industrial-grade code base and algorithm. The team has identified several key uses for this new insight, including a new customer service called Smart+, for use by our Energy Company Obligation (ECO) Team and to assess suitability for low carbon heating systems. The unique selling point is that it uses only smart meter data combined with publicly available data. It does not require any equipment to be installed in the property and the assessment can be performed remotely and unobtrusively. As a result, it can assess millions of properties with relative ease, creating benefit for many households in the UK.