Fife Council is exploring a solution to monitor housing quality for all residents in its 32,000 properties. To reach this goal, the council has started a 12-month pilot project as part of its ‘Housing Plus’ programme, with Aico’s HomeLink Connected Home solution installed in 90 properties spanning a range of building types.
The pilot project’s goals
Fife Council will trial the HomeLink system to measure the benefits of gathering data on indoor environmental conditions in order to improve housing quality and gain a detailed understanding of how its housing stock is performing. Each property will have:
- An Aico Ei1020 environmental sensor installed in the bathroom to measure temperature and humidity (bathrooms are considered high-risk areas due to the humidity surges caused by baths and shower).
- Aico Ei1025 environmental sensors installed in both the living room and the bedroom to measure temperature, humidity and carbon dioxide.
- One Ei1000G gateway – this is the Connected Home solution’s hub, which extracts data from the environmental sensors to be presented in Aico’s HomeLink portal.
The council will use three specific use-cases during the pilot project:
- Damp and mould risk – Measuring temperature and humidity levels in high-risk rooms, such as bathrooms, will enable the council to identify homes at risk of developing damp and mould, with an accompanying indication of whether the conditions have been created by structural or environmental factors.
- Indoor air quality – Collecting temperature, humidity and carbon dioxide levels will enable the council to pinpoint homes that have insufficient ventilation (e.g. due to a poorly-specified ventilation system or a resident disabling that system). The data can be used to improve indoor air quality, therefore reducing other risks such as damp and mould.
- Excess cold and heat loss – Through measuring temperature trends across different property types, the council can pinpoint properties that may be under-performing in terms of energy efficiency.
The 90 homes involved in the project comprise both retirement homes and properties that have reported problems around the three areas above. Once the environmental sensors and gateway have been installed, they will gather data for the next ten years.
Introducing connected devices into residents’ homes for this purpose is a relatively new concept and therefore needs to be understood by residents to gain genuine buy-in of the technologies and to ensure they experience the system’s benefits.
All residents participating in the pilot were invited to a resident engagement day, in association with Aico, to find out more about the project, products and technology, alongside all council staff involved in the project.
Jillian Rodgers, business change manager, Fife Council, said, “Our ‘environmental sensor engagement’ day was a huge success with residents as well as our housing and building staff attending to learn more about the project. Aico’s regional specification managers, Ryan Conway and David Richmond, also provided the in-depth knowledge during the day to answer all questions.”
Introducing the environmental sensors
Residents were introduced to the environmental sensors that would be installed in their home and were provided with information on how they work and the types of data they collect. Further details were given regarding how insights can be used to create healthier homes:
- Damp and mould (are there structural or environmental factors contributing to this risk?);
- Excess cold and heat (energy efficiency or fuel poverty indicators);
- Allergy risk (are there conditions suitable for dust mites?);
- Indoor air quality (is there adequate ventilation in the property?).
For additional peace of mind, Aico’s regional specification managers explained the installation process to reassure residents that there would be minimal disruption to their lives and homes.
Ryan Conway, regional specification manager, Aico, said, “The resident engagement day was a great success with a good turnout. The residents were engaged and learned the benefits of having environmental sensors in the property. Educating and working closely with the residents will be vital to the success of the pilot.”
Exploring the HomeLink app for residents
To engage with residents throughout the process, the participants were also given a demonstration of the HomeLink app.
The app provides residents with their home’s data, empowering them to take control of the health of their homes before any intervention from the council is needed. Residents will receive notifications with helpful tips and advice on how to remedy potential problems and why it’s important to act.
In addition, throughout the project customer surveys will be carried out by the council’s Housing Plus team, working closely with residents to ensure the project is delivered seamlessly, while assessing the benefits for residents and Fife Council.