Intelligent solution cuts carbon and costs in U.K. heat metering project


Oldham, U.K. — (METERING.COM) — July 16, 2009 – Thousands of residents in the United Kingdom town of Oldham have seen their energy bills reduce by an average 30 percent per home since Oldham Council and First Choice Homes Oldham delivered one of the UK’s first intelligent metering packages.

The technology has been installed in more than 2,000 Oldham households by sustainable energy solutions business ENER-G Switch2, part of the U.K. energy efficiency and renewables company ENER-G.

The company’s intelligent heat metering system and time and temperature controls allow tenants direct control over their heating and domestic hot water consumption. As a result, fuel bills for more than 1,700 households managed by FCHO have been cut by up to 60 percent, with some monthly bills falling from more than £60 to below £25.

Figures also show that nine in ten of households are paying less than the previous weekly charge for heat and hot water, with 63 percent cutting their weekly payments by half or more.

The latest figures show almost four million U.K. households are living in fuel poverty, a figure that could be dramatically cut by using technology to control and monitor heat use in individual homes.

Traditionally, social landlords have installed gas-fired, communal heating and hot water systems for sheltered and multi-storey schemes. This meant residents could have unlimited heating for flat-rate weekly payments. However, rising energy costs have pushed up the weekly charge, driving more and more elderly and vulnerable tenants into fuel poverty.

The residents of an entire block now pay only for the energy used and not the energy available. Residents can also lower the temperature, especially in summer, instead of opening windows to cool down.

ENER-G Switch2 has used an innovative fixed area radio network to collect meter readings as and when required, removing the need to enter a resident’s property. The company is also responsible for the maintenance of internal systems including the radiators and domestic hot water cylinders.

“It was clear right away that the ENER-G Switch2 systems would result in reduced fuel costs for the vast majority of tenants but, critically, it would also introduce real fairness,” said Martin Latham, heating services manager at FCHO, which provides maintenance services to more than 13,000 council residents in Oldham. “There is no getting away from the fact that the old fixed charge system did nothing to encourage tenants to manage their consumption sensibly and there was no benefit for those tenants who did. The smart systems have changed all that and introduced real tenant incentives.”

David Fairbrother, Business Development Manager at ENER-G Switch2, added: “We believe it is inequitable for residents to pay a flat rate charge for heat consumed. With differing lifestyles and occupancy levels, no two homes will ever have the same consumption.”