Turning social housing into a smart home

Energy consumption in social housing can be slashed by more than 80 per cent through transforming them into smart homes.

A pilot scheme carried out by Beattie Passive alongside Birmingham City University, InteSys and iZDesign converted two semi-detached Birmingham City Council houses into smart homes in a bid to cut heating energy bills and lift low-income households out of fuel poverty.

High-tech sensors and controls were fitted which could automatically regulate the houses’ temperature based on the residents’ behaviour. Mechanical ventilation and heat recovery system were also installed, along with a Beattie Passive TCosy Deep Retrofit system.

The TCosy wrapped the entire buildings with a new insulated layer by installing a timber frame structure completely around the homes and injecting insulation material into the walls and roof cavity.

Birmingham City University tracked the carbon outputs of the houses, while InteSys developed a predictive control system which learnt the physical characteristics of the building enabling it to deliver the right amount of heat at the right time.

Since work began in September the results have shown an 80 per cent reduction in the use of energy and residents have reported major improvements.

Professor Lubo Jankovic, head of the Zero Carbon Lab at Birmingham City University’s School of Architecture and Design, says: “It has been shown to reduce heating energy consumption and carbon emissions by 80 per cent, saving money for residents and providing a process suitable for a UK-wide scaling-up.

“Our experience from this project shows that there is a behaviour change with occupants with increased internal temperatures and fewer warm clothes needed in winter. This approach improves health and wellbeing of occupants and positively changes their lives.”