Innovations in energy saving technologies are advancing all the time.
In particular we’re seeing a rapid rise of ‘smart’ products that can interact with other items, can learn the most efficient way to operate for your particular home or business situation and can be controlled from anywhere via an app on your smart phone.
When considering investing in new technology it pays to do your homework. Don’t be seduced by the cleverness of a product; be sure to check for evidence of how well systems work, whether they make sense in your environment, whether you will actually use them effectively and whether they are cost effective.
Some of the latest solutions you may want to investigate are:
These and more traditional energy saving products are examined in more detail throughout this blog.
If you are wondering which new technologies or gadgets are right for you, you may wish to consider commissioning a BHESCo energy survey, which will provide a detailed analysis of your energy consumption and identify the most cost-effective solutions for your particular needs..
Thermostats and Digital Programming
For most central heating systems to operate at maximum efficiency, you should have a boiler thermostat, a timer or programmer, a room thermostat and thermostatic radiator valves (TRVs).
If you rely on electric storage heaters for your heating you won’t have a boiler. You can read how to use storage heaters efficiently in this section of our website.
The boiler thermostat sets the temperature of the water that is pumped through your radiators. The energy saving trust provides a video and further information about how to use boiler thermostats.
Timers and Programmers
Timers or programmers allow you to set the times when you want your heating to come on and switch off. If you don’t have a ‘combi’ boiler most also allow you to set your central heating and hot water to go on and off at different times.
People often think that setting their main programmer to provide one constant temperature for 24 hours a day is the most efficient way to use their central heating. This isn’t true. Proper use of heating controls minimises energy consumption by making sure that each room in your home or business is at the correct temperature at the right time.
Individual room thermostats
Adding a room thermostat in the area of your home or business that you use the most (typically your living room at home) prevents your building from getting warmer than necessary.
The thermostat will turn the heating on until the room reaches the temperature you have set, and then off until the temperature drops. Programmable room thermostats combine time and temperature controls and allow you to set different temperatures for different times of the day.
Smart programmers and thermostats
Smart heating controls are becoming increasingly popular. They use an internet connection to allow you to control your heating from your smart phone whether you’re in the building or not.
They also provide information on how much energy you’re using per day, week and month and how much it is costing you. This could help you take steps to reduce your energy use.
Smart controls are probably most useful for people with busy lives and irregular schedules. You can turn the heating on if you’re going to arrive home earlier than normal or off if you’re unexpectedly delayed and are going to be late home. Some systems can even send you a reminder to turn the heating off if you’ve gone out and left it on.
Your lifestyle and attitude to technology will probably be the biggest factors in deciding whether a smart thermostat is right for you.
Thermostatic radiator valves
Thermostatic radiator valves (TRVs) fine tune the level of heat in each room of your building. They do this by reducing the flow of water through the radiator they are attached to whenever the temperature in the room rises above the level set on the TRV. Settings range from 1 to 5. The lower the setting, the less energy used.
Smart TRVs offer greater control than standard TRVs. They can be programmed to work on a time and temperature basis, they measure temperature more accurately in Celsius rather than on a scale from 1 to 5, and they can be controlled remotely from a phone, tablet or laptop, enabling specific heat and light levels to be set for different zones of the building and in relation to time and seasonal variations.
Smart meters and In-Home Displays
Smart meters are the latest generation of gas and electricity meters, which offer a range of intelligent functionality.
For the consumer, they offer several benefits:
- Gas and electricity usage figuresmeter readings are sent automatically to the supplier. There is no longer any need for meters to be read manually and estimated bills become a thing of the past.
- An in-home display unit shows consumers how much energy they are using in real-time and usage is displayed in pounds and pence. This may help you to manage your energy usage more easily, saving you money and reducing carbon emissions.
- Smart meters will enable energy customers to take advantage of ‘Time of Use’ tariffs, where the cost of energy changes throughout the day depending on available levels of energy generation and demand throughout the country. This will allow energy users to charge a battery or a storage heater when demand is lower and electricity pricees are cheaper.
Energy data management
The installation of a smart meter or energy monitor will allow users to record and measure how much enegyer they are using thoughout the day/ week/ month/ year.
Devices can be synced with phones and computers to allow users to view in detail energy consumption graphs and charts.
Integrating remote monitoring and controls will enable customers to continually gather and analyse data about a building’s energy use, adjusting heat and lighting settings in reaction to the information available, and creating a economic case for the adoption of new measures where necessary.
The 'Internet of Things' and connected appliances
Smart programmers and thermostat systems such as Nest by Google and Hive by Centrica are often seen as the beginning of a connectivity revolution in which many of our products become more responsive and controllable from a web-enabled hub system. This is often referred to as the Internet of Things. The idea is that as our appliances and products become smarter we can gradually chip away at the excesses of our energy intensive modern lifestyles by automatically eliminating some of the energy wasted by inefficient use.
Value can also be gained once smart products start to interact with a smart energy grid.
For example, energy could be priced dynamically, making it more expensive during periods of peak demand and cheaper when demand is low. Some predict that smart grids will even be able to detect unnecessary energy use and turn off products accordingly.
A typical case might be if there has been no activity in a property for some time but a hot water heater is using energy, the system would be able to turn the heater off.
At the moment, we are reliant on people to act responsibly and efficiently to save energy. The Internet of Things would remove some of that reliance on the individual and replace it with system level efficiency. Whether you think this is a good development or not is a matter of opinion.
Standby savers or powerdown plugs
Are you guilty of leaving appliances like your TV, DVD or PC in standby mode? The Energy Saving Trust calculates that the average household wastes £35 every year on electricity for appliances left in standby.
If you or someone in your household or business regularly forgets to turn appliances off completely, you may want to consider a standby saver or power down plugs. These products allow you to turn a number of products off standby in one go. Some work through timers, others have one remote control or a single switch.
If you do decide to buy one of these products explore recommendations and buy from a reputable source as there have been reports of fake, low quality products in the past.
When trying to save energy, lights should always be turned off when not in use. It makes sense for external lights at home and work to have motion sensors and timers. That way they only come on when needed.
Businesses may also want to consider fitting lighting with motion sensors and timers in areas that are not in constant use such as toilets, stock rooms and corridors.
What should you do next?
If you are interested in taking action to reduce the energy costs and environmental impact of your home or business in Brighton and Hove then request an Energy Survey using the booking form below and our Energy Saving Team will contact you within the next few working days.