A pilot project by Octavia Housing is helping landlords re-think how they deliver heat and tackle fuel poverty in thousands of properties across the UK supplied by district heating systems, by allowing them to monitor system performance and energy use in real-time.
Octavia has teamed up with green energy specialist Guru Systems for the project, which will use the company’s smart metering system to monitor how efficiently the district heating system is working at its Elizabeth House development in Wembley.
The Guru system allows landlords to check that their district heating networks are operating efficiently and that they are charging the right tariff to customers, which reduces their financial risk.
The Guru system uses wireless technology to monitor key information on how the network is performing, from the central plant right through to each individual’s home, meaning landlords can quickly identify any issues in the network long before costs mount up. By delivering real-time information on energy usage and payments, the Guru system also allows registered providers to identify and focus resources on vulnerable residents who are in fuel poverty and in immediate need of support.
Eamon Somers, consultant development manager, Octavia Housing, said, “District heating has a significant role to play in the future of social housing and we are delighted to be part of this pilot, which will help us provide better services to our tenants, while ensuring that we are operating effectively as a business.”
Casey Cole, managing director, Guru Systems, said, “Landlords increasingly rely on district heating to provide low cost, low carbon heat to tenants, but because landlords have been unable to accurately measure how efficient these systems are once they become operational, they often don’t realise that there is a problem until it is too late.
“If the heating networks are not accurately measured and there are inefficiencies, every time someone turns on their heating the landlord could be losing money. In one recent case, a landlord lost £65,000 in the first year on a 100-home scheme.”
At the Elizabeth House scheme, each of the 115 flats in the block is fitted with a Guru ‘hub’, which is connected to the heat meter in the dwelling, and measures usage in individual homes. The hub’s touchscreen provides real-time consumption information to the tenant. Every hub in the building is connected via a wireless ‘mesh’ network to measure heating usage across the block as well as performance of the central plant. This information is then sent to the Octavia’s metering and billing provider, Insite Energy, who gains a real-time view of the system’s efficiency. This information can also be used to help identify residents who need support.
Charmaine Francis, resident liaison officer, Octavia, said, “Since using the Guru system, we can see clearly who is using their heating well and who is struggling. We can then offer advice or signpost tenants to other agencies for support.”