The University of Southampton

Improving energy efficiency in your home – find out how to reduce your bills

Published: 
14 December 2012
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Households are being encouraged to take part in a new project by the University of Southampton to help reduce their energy bills.

Rising energy prices combined with falling winter temperatures provide a powerful incentive for us to find ways of reducing our energy bills.

According to researchers at the University of Southampton, a key element in reducing our bills is to better understand how our home consumes energy. To help users gain this understanding, the researchers have devised a simple process which provides personalized advice with the minimum of time and effort – and at no cost.

The research is a collaboration between the ORCHID project, based in Electronics and Computer Science, which is investigating how people and software systems can better interact, and the ‘Intelligent Agents for Home Energy Management’ project, which focuses on using autonomous software agents to improve energy efficiency within the home.

Only three steps are involved in the process: first you register with the project online and you receive your free Joulo data logger (which looks and works just like a conventional memory stick). You place this on top of your central-heating thermostat and leave it for a week to collect data as you continue to use your heating as normal. You then log on to the website, upload the data from the logger, and receive instant personalised advice on how to reduce your heating bill. The logger can then be posted back to the researchers using the return bag – and postage is also free.

“We’re giving people responsible energy advice at low cost and scale”, said Dr Alex Rogers, who is leading the project. “The system is very easy to use – we’re not installing something permanently and we’re not asking users to collect data themselves; all that’s required is that the data logger sits on top of the thermostat for a week.

“The analysis that participants receive is designed to make them more aware of how they are operating their heating system against the background of the external weather conditions. We’re looking at the profile between internal and external temperatures and seeing how the home responds - how quickly it warms up and dissipates, and then providing advice on this feedback.”

“We believe that people will be able to lower their annual bill through taking our advice on board,” he added. “As we run our analysis algorithms on data from more and more homes throughout the trial, we’ll be able to add more complex analysis. We particularly want to add feedback about timer settings; warning householders that they may be heating their homes very early in the morning, or very late at night, when it probably isn’t necessary.”

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