Social housing innovator, Switchee, has been awarded £468,000 from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) as part of Stream 2 of the Heat Pump Ready (HPR) Programme, to research and develop solutions to help scale up heat pump deployment in the social housing market. The HPR Programme forms part of BEIS’s £1 billion Net Zero Innovation Portfolio (NZIP), which aims to accelerate the commercialisation of innovative clean energy technologies and processes to 2030 and beyond. As a key solution for decarbonising homes, heat pumps will be critical for meeting the UK’s legally binding commitment to achieve net zero by 2050. The HPR Programme will support the development of innovative solutions across the heat pump sector.
Switchee will partner with Leeds Beckett University and heat pump manufacturer, Daikin UK to produce smart heat pump tools specifically aimed at improving take-up and education around heat pumps. Key barriers to mass heat pump deployment in social housing include, resident refusals and distrust, installation costs, lack of familiarity with the technology and variabilities in performance of the heat pumps.
Collaborative R&D between Daikin and Switchee will build on the Switchee second-generation Econa smart thermostat. Communication and education tools will be informed by research conducted by Leeds Beckett University. Solutions to overcome the barriers relating to heat pump acceptance, lack of awareness and consumer behaviour will be delivered by:
- Communication protocol development, enabling remote reading of error warning messages from the heat pump to alert the housing association.
- Using heat pump metrics including live and historic data. Heat pump specific algorithms will be developed to alert on detected heat pump performance issues i.e. excessive energy consumption.
- Offering tailored heat pump advice focused on resident experience.
- Flagging to the housing association when a new resident has moved into the property, so heat pump advice and educational material can be made available to them.
Commenting on the project, Adam Fudakowski, Executive Chairman of Switchee said: “Currently less than two percent of the UK housing market has heat pumps installed. For net zero targets in the UK to be met, 600,000 heat pumps a year need to be deployed by 2028. Given the social housing market will make up a significant part of this, we must tackle market barriers if deployment targets are to be met. Scaling like this requires rapid innovation and overcoming of current challenges presented by heat pumps quickly; we’re delighted be working with Daikin and Leeds Beckett University to help deliver solutions.
“We’ve installed thousands of Switchees for housing associations and know the importance of providing smart integration for post-install performance monitoring and consumer advice. Our data has already shown us that the most frequent support cases post installation are caused by user behaviour leading to inefficiency, incorrect scheduling, energy bill concerns and distrust in the system.”
The project will run for 18 months and project outcomes will be market tested through field trials across 100 homes in the UK; Leeds Beckett will provide independent post-trial evaluation.
Switchee fights fuel poverty and provides social housing providers with remote data insights that cut maintenance costs and improve resident well-being. Using five sensors, Switchee is able to understand occupancy and optimise heating settings, saving residents up to 17% on their energy bills. This data is then used to produce a landlord dashboard displaying a range of welfare and maintenance KPIs and alerts such as mould risk, poor insulation, fuel poverty risk, boiler performance and abandonment risk.
The Switchee messaging service allows housing providers to conduct surveys, book in maintenance visits and post announcements directly to the Switchee in-home display. The communications method has an average response rate of over 90% making it the most reliable communication method in the sector. Switchee works with over 100 Social Housing Providers across the UK.
Daikin Airconditioning UK Ltd is a wholly owned subsidiary of Daikin Europe NV. The focus of our business is the sales and distribution of Daikin air conditioning products whilst fully utilising the advantage of our European Group Manufacturing Division. Over 90 years of precision and innovation has helped Daikin build a worldwide reputation for quality and technology.
About Leeds Beckett University
The Leeds Sustainability Institute (LSI) at Leeds Beckett University has over 30 years of experience in evaluating the energy efficiency of buildings. The LSI are an interdisciplinary research team, taking a holistic approach to investigating sustainable buildings. Our research captures all aspects of a building’s life cycle from planning and design, construction and commissioning, occupation and operation, refurbishment and retrofit, and finally, demolition and reuse. Our projects often compare predictions of heat loss and energy consumption, as well as overheating and moisture risks, in models, with real life performance measured via BPE field trial investigations and in-use monitoring of buildings. People living and working in buildings are as much a part of sustainable buildings as the fabric and services, and so our social science and post occupancy evaluation projects research how people use buildings, evaluate their thermal comfort, monitor air quality, and investigate how behaviour change techniques can help people make more sustainable decisions.
Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy
This funding has been made available from the government’s £1 billion Net Zero Innovation Portfolio (NZIP) which provides funding for low-carbon technologies and systems. Decreasing the costs of decarbonisation, the NZIP will help enable the UK to end its contribution to climate change.
About the Heat Pump Ready Programme
Funded through the NZIP, the Heat Pump Ready Programme supports the development of innovative solutions across the heat pump sector. Heat pumps are a key solution for decarbonising homes and will be critical for meeting the UK’s commitment to achieve Net Zero by 2050.
Heat Pump Ready is being delivered in 3 Streams:
Stream 1: To design and demonstrate innovative, optimised solutions and methodologies which deliver more cost-effective and high-density deployment of domestic heat pumps.
Stream 2: To support the development of tools, technology and processes to overcome specific barriers to domestic heat pump deployment in the UK.
Stream 3: To facilitate learning and collaboration within and outside the programme, undertaking research and evaluation activities, and disseminating knowledge, evidence, and lessons to key heat pump stakeholders.
More information on the Heat Pump Ready Programme can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/heat-pump-ready-programme
Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy, 2022, Boost for innovative heat pump projects to drive cleaner heating, URL https://www.gov.uk/government/news/boost-for-innovative-heat-pump-projects-to-drive-cleaner-heating
Housing Digital, Switchee secures £468k BEIS funding to advance heat pumps, URL https://housingdigital.co.uk/switchee-secures-468k-beis-funding-to-advance-heat-pumps/