Researchers seek volunteer households for energy saving project

Research news

Tuesday 08 March 2016

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Researchers at Coventry University are looking for volunteers from the local area to take part in a new study that aims to help households use energy more effectively.

Coventry, alongside four other UK universities - Birmingham, Edinburgh, Portsmouth and Aston - is part of the Smarter Households project, which is recruiting volunteers to test out innovative technology designed to provide families with tailored, real-time information on their energy consumption. The project is being funded by the UK Engineering and Physical Science Research Council (EPSRC) in conjunction with Orbit Heart of England housing providers and E.ON Energy

It is estimated that around 4 million UK homes spend more than 10% of their income on energy and bills are received retrospectively, long after householders can have an impact on controlling or managing their energy usage.

The Smarter Households project is designed to address this by arming customers with resources, which will encourage them to think more about how they use energy and change their behaviour accordingly. It is anticipated that the benefits of the project could be twofold: increased environmental awareness and potentially lower energy bills. The new technology being rolled out comprises a series of sensors that monitor everyday energy usage around the home as well as measuring atmospheric conditions. This data is relayed to a tablet or smartphone via an easy to understand ‘dashboard’, thus providing householders with accurate, up-to-date information about their energy consumption.

Shuli Liu, Professor in Low Carbon Technology at Coventry University’s School of Energy, Construction and Environment is leading the Smarter Households project. She said:


This project is about developing technology that gives customers greater control over what they consume. It will give us an understanding of how technology could help people cut costs whilst making homes healthier and more comfortable.


The tablet dashboard that links to the new smart technology will display real-time electricity and gas usage using 3D graphics. We’re also looking to trial a new digital ‘game’ to further engage householders  -  especially children - to help them understand ways in which they could save energy and money.


 The involvement of the local population is crucial to this research to help us paint a realistic picture of energy consumption. The results will then be used to develop more products and solutions that are engaging, useful and fun." 


Further information about the Smarter Households project is available online at Householders who are interested in taking part in the study should email

Volunteers must be Orbit Heart of England customers and open to testing the new technology for up to eighteen months. Unfortunately properties using pre-payment meters are unable to take part in the project.



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Notes to editors

Orbit Heart of England manages over 16,000 properties across the Midlands including affordable homes for rent, leasehold and home ownership properties and sheltered and supported housing.

Orbit Heart of England is part of Orbit Living, an umbrella organisation which brings together Orbit Heart of England, Orbit East, Orbit South, Orbit Independent Living and Care & Repair. Orbit Living helps to build strong communities and meet local housing need in more than 100 local authority areas.

Orbit Services joins Orbit Homes and Orbit Living to make up Orbit Group’s operational delivery vehicles. Orbit Services offers a full range of back office functions and specialist support to internal and external clients.

Orbit Group is one of the largest housing organisations in the country, providing more than 39,000 homes in the Midlands, South East, London and the East of England and committed to its purpose of Building Communities.