Energy Systems Catapult has developed a national asset called the ‘Living Lab’ – a 250 home test and demonstration environment for businesses to trial new energy products and services in homes retrofitted with room-by-room sensors and smart heating controls. By trialling with real people, including vulnerable households, businesses can rapidly design, market-test and launch innovations that give consumers better control over cost, comfort, and scale for low carbon technology.
Energy Systems Catapult delivered the UK’s largest-ever trial into the potential of smart technology to help address the challenge of decarbonising domestic heating. The £25m Smart Systems and Heat Programme piloted a new way to sell heating, where people buy a warm home, heated to the schedule they want, rather than just paying for units of energy they use. Tested in the Living Lab of real homes, this revealed how consumers heat their homes and what they really want out of their heating.
Supported by a decade of research, Energy Systems Catapult has developed unparalleled insights into energy services. The maturing of smart homes, Al and data science are providing an opportunity to make the energy sector more consumer-focused, with opportunities for entirely new business models to aid the switch to low carbon heating.
The programme has positioned the Catapult as the leading institution for exploring how to decarbonise the UK’s heating systems, a key challenge identified in the Government’s Clean Growth Strategy. Businesses such as Bristol Energy and Baxi have trialled selling innovative customer propositions in the Living Lab, including Heat as a Service and AirEx Technologies used the Lab for testing its intelligent airbrick device – cutting their evidence gathering process by one year.
Energy Systems Catapult continue to build upon their Living Lab and have recently announced the addition of 50 new disabled households, providing an opportunity for innovators to work with disabled and elderly consumers in a supportive environment to design energy-related products and services that meet their needs.