Heat as a service trials undertaken

Bristol Energy and Baxi Heating have completed trials to explore whether offering heat as a service could drive demand for low-carbon heating solutions.

The two energy companies partnered with Energy Systems Catapult to trial Living Labs, whereby 100 homes across Newcastle, Manchester, the West Midlands, Gloucestershire and Bridgend in Wales were fitted with smart heating systems. The year-long trials have been funded by the Department of Business Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS).

The aim of the trial was to garner how the public would interact with the systems, due to many prioritising comfort and cost over whether or not the heat source is low carbon. In response, the companies trialled selling “heat-as-a-service”, offering a “Heat Plan” where consumers purchased ‘hours of warmth’ rather than units of energy (kWh). This enabled the households to schedule and budget for heating and was offered a fixed price based on data about the thermal efficiency of their home and the number of hours of warmth needed by the customer each week.

According to Energy Systems Catapult, the accessibility and ease of the smart heating systems could lead to more willingness amongst the public to adopt low-carbon heating.

Energy Systems Catapult’s consumer insight business lead Dr Matt Lipson said: “Consumers have concerns about their ability to get warm and comfortable at an affordable price and how to fix the system if it breaks down. Yet our research clearly shows that people care more about heating outcomes – such as getting warm and comfortable - than which device or system delivers the heat.

“If people have the peace of mind that heat-as-a-service will deliver the comfort they want at a price they can afford…then when it comes time to replace their gas boiler, they will be more confident of switching to a low carbon heating system like a heat pump, district heat network or hydrogen boiler.”

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