Source: Renewable Energy Installer Magazine, September 2013 Issue, page 39.
The Energeno sales team on the stand at Solar Power UK 2012 is chosen to illustrate article related to this year's show. See page 39 of magazine to read article.
Source: Housing Association Building & Maintenance (HABM), 2 July 2013.
Proving homes that are both affordable and sustainable is an increasingly challenging task for housing associations. Mark Elliott discusses the contribution that solar power can make and the importance of implementng effective energy monitoring.
As the cost of living shoots up and power companies warn of possible blackouts due to insufficient capacity in the network, it is probable that the launch of the 2013 Building regulations this autumn will require all new-builds to comply with level 4 of the Code of Sustainable Homes, something which the affordable housing sector has already been working to for a number of months.
Indeed, many housing associations and social housing landlords already have buildings fitted with renewable energy technologies as standard, while some older stock has also benefitted from retrofitted equipment. It is not uncommon to see collections of solar panels on the roofs of housing association properties and the benefits can be substantial.
Solar power provides an opportunity for housing associations and social housing landlords to improve the long-term energy prospects of their tenants by alleviating fuel poverty and greatly reducing their carbon emissions. This is increasingly important in light of recent research by the Association for the Conservation of Energy which found that Britain has the highest fuel poverty figures in Western Europe (March 2013). Despite the cuts to Feed-in-Tariff (FiT), some of which have already taken effect, the benefits of subsidies for landlords and discounted electricity bills for tenants offered by renewable energy will continue to transpire as inflation continues and utility companies increase their prices.
Of course, it isn’t just about the installation of renewable energy technology; the full benefits of measures such as solar panels will only be realised if they are supported by wider efforts to encourage people to be more energy efficient. Installations are often out of sight, out of mind, so encouraging the behavioural change needed to achieve the true benefits of solar power has been difficult in the past. Landlords and tenants alike need to gain a true insight into energy use in their building, which will give them control to reduce their own electricity bills.
Energy monitoring can improve both the financial and environmental performance of housing association properties and social housing. There are a number of monitoring technologies available, the best of which will fit conveniently and cleanly into the tenant’s living space, providing visibility of both energy being used and carbon emissions being produced. When an installation has generated surplus power, equipment like the Wattson Solar Plus monitor will glow green telling residents that they can use the free power.
Giving the tenants transparency in this way enables them to shift from using high energy consuming items like washing machines at peak power cost times, to using them when power is ‘free’ because the installation is generating at full capacity. Indeed, some of the more sophisticated monitoring equipment will link to online portals, such as Wattson Anywhere, which will show historic data on consumption and energy escape, ultimately allowing tenants to plan their energy use going forward.
In 2012, a ground-breaking scheme to drive energy efficiency in homes in the Leicestershire village of North Kilworth had a dramatic impact on residents’ behaviour. A total of 80 Wattson energy monitors were handed out to residents in an initiative led by the Village Power Community Interest Company (CIC) as part of a programme of activities designed to reduce the village’s carbon footprint. After just two months, two thirds of residents involved with the Local Energy Assessment Fund (LEAF) project confirmed that their energy usage had changed and the same number wanted more information on energy efficiency. Nine out of 10 said they would recommend the Wattson monitor to a friend.
The next phase of the LEAF project has seen free Optiplugs supplied to the community. The Optiplug is an intelligent socket which automatically diverts energy to appropriate appliances when there is spare energy being produced by the system. This means that appliances, such as washing machines, dishwashers, phone chargers and heated towel rails only receive power when it is free to the resident.
Poole Housing Partnership (PHP) is in the process of installing solar PV in around a quarter of its managed stock. Part of the Alliance Home Framework Partnership, PHP is also rolling out the Wattson Solar Plus energy monitoring equipment as part of its bid to lift tenants out of fuel poverty, cutting energy bills by an average of £10 per week, per property. As well as reducing bills and cutting emissions, the project aims to engage entire families in the issue of energy efficiency, using bold displays and tenant roadshows to convey the messages.
Making use of 'free energy'
Using ‘free electricity’ becomes quite easy with the right monitoring technology in place. However, this has historically only been useful when the tenant is at home to make use of the power being generated. The latest innovations in the marketplace provide residents with smart technology that can learn how much power is required around the building at different times and then automatically divert enough energy to power an appliance when there is free energy available. As an example, the Optimmersion can convert surplus free electricity into hot water via immersion heaters, with typical savings in the region of £131 per year for an oil-fired boiler and £175 per year for electrically-heated water.
More and more renewable installations are being fitted as standard on new housing. However, the biggest driver for installations is the financial benefits. When landlords invest in solar PV, they’re freeing tenants from utility companies, enabling them to secure their own energy use, and in some cases, lifting them out of fuel poverty. However, when they combine this with the right monitoring technology and smart metering, the results can be far greater than anticipated.
Article in Renewable Energy Installer, July-August 2013, page 21.
Mark Elliott, chief operating officer at renewable energy monitoring business, Energeno, explains how landlords and homeowners can make the most of their power.
The term ‘energy optimisation’ can often be misunderstood; however, put simply, it is the meeting place of using less electrical power overall while making the most of homegenerated power. An increasing number of households are installing renewable energy technologies, such as solar panels; however this is only half of the story. The full benefits of such measures will only be realised if they are supported by wider efforts to encourage people to be more energy efficient. Installations are often out of sight, out of mind, so encouraging the behavioural change needed to achieve the true benefits of solar power can be challenging.
Using less electrical power
There are a number of key behavioural changes which need to be made in the UK psyche if we are to start to see a stabilisation or reduction in overall power usage. This is where installers can start to add real value to customers, providing advice and tips which help homeowners save money and deliver return on their investment. Starting simply, it is important to make sure items such as lights, televisions or computers are switched off when not in use, rather than leaving them on standby. When looking to purchase new appliances, it is important to go for the most energy efficient – the A+++ standard.
Knowledge is power
In addition, energy monitoring can improve both the financial and environmental performance of a building. There are a number of monitoring technologies available, the best of which will fit conveniently and cleanly into the living space, providing visibility of both energy being used and carbon emissions being produced. With an understanding of the ‘typical’ electricity use of the home, it is possible to shift from using high energy consuming items like washing machines at peak power cost times, to using them when power is ‘free’ because the renewable installation is generating at full capacity. Typically, Wattson Solar Plus users make an average saving of almost 20 per cent a year just by understanding their energy use.
Maximising solar installations
In the case of solar, systems should be monitored to ensure they are functioning at optimal performance levels. Seasonal variations can affect performance and it may be that, now we are in summer, the winter detritus needs to be cleaned off the panels. There are also smaller adjustments which can be made to manage issues such as shadows or shading. Tools such as Wattson Professional allow installers to offer a valueadded service, whatever type of inverter or panel is in place. Making the most of solar power. In addition, contrary to popular belief about peak pricing, the most efficient time in which to use power when you have a solar PV system is during the day. Put simply, use energy when the sun is shining and generating the most power. Tools like Optiplug can help to manage this effectively, automatically switching on the washing machine or tumble dryer when the installation is generating surplus power.
Optimisation for installers
Energy optimisation is for everyone – not just the new build or passive houses. Everyone can take steps to reduce their electricity bills and those with solar PV have even more options when it comes to saving energy and reducing bills. Ultimately, installers need to make use of the right equipment and software so that they can provide home and business owners with something tangible to measure the return on their solar investment.
Peak practice: Using energy monitoring systems can lower energy bills by shifting consumption away from peak price times, says Energeno chief operating officer Mark Elliott.
Energeno's Wattson Solar Plus and Optimmersion were listed as the top 3 eco gadgets to have in Home Building & Renovating magazine, April 2013 issue.
Source: Inside Technology, issue 10, www.ttp.com
Energeno Ltd is developing smart energy-saving devices which work with renewable
power installations. The aim of the company is to provide in-home and web-based
tools for owners of renewable energy systems, funders of solar installations, and
maintenance companies to enable them to obtain the highest payback on their
the solar array to an immersion heater to provide free hot water.
There are plans to develop other products, either under the Wattson or Opti-range labels. As an example, the company would like to offer a range of energy storage subsystems so that homeowners can store self-generated, or off-peak electricity, which can be used in place of peak-rate electricity imported from the grid. The eventual aim is a trade sale once Energeno has reached critical mass in its main target markets.
Source: Public Service Review, issue 21, page 130-131.
Realising the potential of solar power in social housing…
Solar power provides an opportunity for social housing associations and landlords to improve the long term energy prospects of tenants by alleviating fuel poverty and greatly reducing their carbon emissions. And, despite cuts to feed-in tariffs (FiTs), some of which have already taken effect, the benefits of subsidies for landlords and discounted electricity bills for tenants offered by renewable
energy will continue to transpire as inflation continues to rise and utility companies increase their
prices. However, there are other measures that photovoltaic (PV) installation owners and their
tenants can put in place to achieve the greatest benefits.
In the following, Mark Elliott, Director of energy monitoring specialist Energeno, explains how monitoring technology and smart meters hold the key to unleashing the full potential of PVs, and how Energeno’s range of equipment can help landlords and tenants alike combat fuel poverty.
Source: Public Service Review, issue 21, page 127.
Solar PV installations can play a major role in the fight against fuel poverty, writes Energeno Director Mark Elliott…
With level 4 of the Code for Sustainable Homes now mandatory for new build social housing, many landlords have buildings fitted with renewable energy technologies as standard. Some older stock too has benefited from investment in renewables such as solar panels to take advantage of financial incentives such as feed-in-tariffs (FiTs).
A lot of the discussion about the benefits of solar has revolved around FiTs but there is considerably more to the story when looking at solar as an opportunity to reduce bills and tackle fuel. The original government grants offered for solar photovoltaic (PV) installations once provided social housing landlords with a ‘quick fix’ approach to improved sustainability and a way to reduce electricity bills for tenants. FiTs then replaced these grants and have since gone some way to positioning solar PV as more of a long-term investment. Even with the existing and planned cuts to FiTs, it’s clear that the benefits of subsidies for landlords and discounted electricity bills for tenants will continue to increase as inflation climbs and utility companies increase their prices.
However, many social housing renewable energy projects were put on hold or even abandoned altogether in light of the well-documented FiTs debacle, which played out across the media earlier this year. What wasn’t so widely reported is the fact that solar PV installations still have the potential to achieve considerable benefits for both social landlords and the people who live in their properties. In October 2012, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation issued a report – ‘Renewable Energy: Getting the benefits right for social housing’ – which suggests in its findings that the full benefits of measures such as solar panels will only be realised if they are supported by efforts to encourage people to be energy efficient. The report points to the primary motivator for social landlords in installing PV schemes as fuel poverty and explained that a well-positioned PV installation could achieve significant savings of up to £220 per year. November saw the Energy Saving Trust estimate potential domestic savings even higher at £635. However, encouraging tenants to behave in an energy-efficient way in terms of timing and patterns of use for electrical appliances was significant in achieving the full financial benefits.
Earlier this year, a groundbreaking scheme to drive energy efficiency in homes in the Leicestershire village of North Kilworth had a dramatic impact on residents’ behaviour. A total of 80 energy monitors were handed out to residents in an initiative led by the Village Power Community Interest Company (CIC) as part of a programme of activities designed to reduce the village’s carbon footprint. After just two months, two-thirds of residents confirmed that their energy usage had changed and the same number wanted more information on energy efficiency. Nine out of 10 said they would recommend the monitor to a friend.
‘…the full benefits of
measures such as solar
panels will only be realised if
they are supported by efforts
to encourage people to be
When such monitors are used with solar installations, they glow green when free electricity is available from the PV system, enabling residents to take advantage of this rather than paid-for electricity whenever possible. By showing energy usage across different appliances, they also drive up awareness of how to reduce consumption, thereby giving residents far more control over their energy use. As well as energy monitors, we are seeing a growing number of practical gadgets that can turn appliances or water heaters on automatically when free electricity is available – helping to reduce bills. Saving energy for most people in fuel poverty is not just about insulation. Taking people to near self-sufficiency in electricity terms has to be the next goal, and monitors that give tenants the knowledge and power to optimise their free energy use are expected to play an increasingly important part inachieving this objective.
Source: Professional Electrician and Installer, September 2012.
Professional Electrician discovers how contractors can maximise business through remote monitoring of Solar installations.
Technology Case Study on Wattson Professional
Source: Eco Installer, issue 7, Autumn 2012, pages 46-47.
In many cases, installers adopt a 'fit-and-forget' approach to their projects. But contractors can now build new relationships with customers through remote monitoring of solar installations.
Renewable Energy Installer, July 2012
The Wattson Professional energy monitoring system is the latest product included in Energeno's portfolio.
Energy efficiency: a whole village approach
Energy efficiency can be tackled on a village-scale, as demonstrated by North Kilworth in Leicestershire. Residents have established a Community Interest Company (CIC) which is taking forward an array of projects to reduce the village’s carbon footprint and its reliance on non-renewable energy.