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ETI invests £4.9m in smart technology

The Energy Technologies Institute (ETI) is planning to to develop a home energy management system (HEMS) with “mass-market appeal” over the next two years.

It has appointed design and development specialist Cambridge Consultants to lead the project, which is part of the ITS Smart Systems and Home Heat Programme.

The £4.9m project aims to extend the capabilities of existing technology that will provide householders with enhanced experiences “not just through cost savings alone”.

HEMS has been identified by ETI research as a key component in future smart energy systems.

Recognising that consumers do not willingly engage with energy management systems, the ETI stated that “any product solutions need to be consumer-focused if they are to be effective”.

The project includes plans to test solutions in the homes of consumers at the end of 2016 and beginning of 2017 to analyse gas and electricity use, along with heating system and building performance.

Two main potential pathways have been identified to reduce carbon emissions from 26 million homes by 2050, according to the ETI Decarbonising Heat for UK Homes report: low-carbon heat through heat networks and electric heating systems.

Project manager Donna Gandy-Wright said: “Decarbonising heat in our homes is important if we are to meet the UK’s legally binding 2050 climate change targets, as around 20% of the nation’s carbon emissions are generated by domestic heating and around 90% of the 26 million homes around today are expected to be still in use in 2050. But today, fewer than 4% of homes have low-carbon heating and 90% prefer gas central heating given the choice.”

She said ETI research showed that people “care enough to change how they heat their homes simply because of emissions” and that they preferred to optimise systems before replacing them.