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Creating More Smart Homes To Support The Drive To Net Zero

Smart Homes

The project will be delivered in partnership by Newcastle University, Northern Gas Networks, and National Energy Action (NEA). Experts from Newcastle University Business School and NEA, the national fuel poverty and energy efficiency charity, will work collaboratively to evaluate the factors driving the adoption of smart homes for energy and water efficiency.

Researchers will investigate the difficulties that low-income and vulnerable households face in making their homes more efficient. They will also investigate how these households use data and digital technologies to support their decarbonisation efforts.

This project is part of the Ofgem Strategic Innovation Fund (SIF) managed by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), a new funding mechanism seeking ideas to transform energy networks in the race to net zero. The SIF will see businesses and academics work with energy networks on projects that will deliver benefits to consumers.

Professor Savvas Papagiannidis, David Goldman Prof of Innovation and Enterprise, and Professor Diana Gregory-Smith, forthcoming Professor of Marketing and Sustainability are the project leads from Newcastle University Business School.

Professor Papagiannidis said: “This project aims to systematise research related to smart homes when it comes to energy management, creating a framework of good practice. Considering the on-going energy crisis, making the most out of digital technologies in order to increase efficiency and effectiveness is of even greater importance than usual.”

Professor Gregory-Smith added: “Our project will bring key insights into the main factors that affect user/consumer behaviour, paving the way for interventions that can result in the adoption and diffusion of technologies. The findings and framework will inform the next phases we envisage for this project – the empirical validation, and deployment and implementation stages.”

Factors that support or limit the adoption of smart and digital technologies

Helen Stockton, Research Manager and Jess Cook, Project development Manager (Water Poverty) are the leads from NEA.

Helen Stockton said: “This important research will synthesise insights from academic and non-academic research into the critical factors that support or limit the adoption of smart and digital technologies. The resulting framework we hope will support households to decarbonise while ensuring they live in warm and efficient homes at an affordable cost.  This will be vital for ensuring the transition to net zero is fair and has households at its centre.”

Jess Cook added: “It’s important that future projects in this area don’t repeat work that has already taken place or make mistakes that have already been made. By creating a good-practice framework, future projects can learn from what has already been studied or tested, maximising the investment made, and hopefully expediting project timelines to engage more households on this topic sooner.”

The project will draw on Newcastle University’s expertise in energy systems research. The University is working in partnership with Northern Gas Networks, Northern Powergrid, Northumbrian Water to develop Integrated Transport Electricity Gas Research Laboratory (InTEGReL) as a test bed for future energy solutions. Specifically, the project will focus in on the new Customer Energy Village development which provides new research infrastructure which is a facsimile of existing housing stock common across the UK. Based in Low Thornley, Gateshead, it is the UK’s first multi-vector integrated energy systems research and demonstration facility investigating utility scale infrastructure.

Professor Brian Walker, Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Research Strategy & Resources, Newcastle University, said: ‘’Newcastle University is proud of the commitments it has made to support the transition to a netzero economy through our own Climate Action Plan, our education programmes, and through our research across a wide range of topics. This project exemplifies what universities can do in close collaboration with businesses who share our vision for a fair and sustainable future of energy supply. It could not come at a more significant time.’’

Keith Owen, Head of Systems Development at Northern Gas Networks said: “We’re delighted to have secured funding for this project which will be targeted specifically at the energy transition and ultimately to delivering zero carbon energy faster for customers.

“It’s an exciting time. We believe in a whole systems approach to decarbonising our energy system, where different energy types work together – gas, electricity and transport – to increase reliability, reduce costs and pass on benefits to energy customers.”

Source: Newcastle University

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