A leading environmental charity, Changeworks, has teamed up with the University of Edinburgh to design technology giving consumers more control over how much gas and electricity they use at home.

The new research project investigates how smart technology can help people find ways to use less gas and electricity in the home and make savings on energy bills.

Changeworks is calling for over 200 householders to volunteer and be the first to use the new IDEAL smart technology developed by experts at the University of Edinburgh. Sensors will be installed in volunteers’ homes to record how much gas and electricity is being used, and the temperature and humidity in each room. The system will then provide feedback to householders, via an app, about their energy use to help them understand it better.

Volunteers will get a detailed breakdown of their energy use at their fingertips using an app: how much they’re using, when, and what it is costing them. They will also get energy saving advice via the app from experts at the University of Edinburgh, giving them the chance to find out how to save money on their gas and electricity bills. Volunteers will play a vital role in the project by using the smart technology in their home which will help researchers find out how people use energy and better ways to reduce their energy bills.

Participating households will also receive a tablet to use during the project which runs to June 2018.

Helen and Mark, who live in Leith, took part in an earlier trial of the project:

 “We had a survey carried out and a palm-sized monitor fitted to the wall in a discreet part of each room. It was straightforward. We soon forgot the sensors were there and when it was time to take them down, they came off easily and didn’t leave a mark.

“We were surprised by some of the findings,” says Mark. “Our electricity shot up when we had the heat lamps on so we may invest in different lamps for warmth and UV light. It was really interesting to see what pushed up the cost of our bills.”

Drew Murphy, IDEAL project manager from Changeworks said:

“We are excited to be working with the University of Edinburgh on this project, exploring the impact of feedback tailored to how people currently use their heating and electricity. Smart technology will allow volunteers to see, in pounds and pence, how much gas and electricity they are using. Project findings will inform how we can use technologies, such as smart meters, to enable households to make changes in how they use gas and electricity to lower their energy use, household bills and impact on the environment.”

To be eligible to take part volunteers should live in Edinburgh or the Lothians (EH postcode areas), have broadband, a combi boiler and mains gas supply, and be interested in having the smart technology installed in their home until June 2018.

Notes to editors

1. Changeworks is one of Scotland’s largest environmental charities, working with organisations, communities and individuals to deliver practical solutions which reduce carbon emissions, fuel poverty and waste. Changeworks ~ 30 years of inspiring change for people and the environment.

2. IDEAL technology is the Intelligent Domestic Energy Advice Loop system designed by the University of Edinburgh in partnership with Changeworks.

3. To find out more or volunteer, read the project details on our website and email your name, address, and contact details to IDEAL@changeworks.org.uk or call Changeworks 0131 539 8610. 

4. Interviews with the IDEAL project manager and a demonstration of the smart technology can be arranged on request