Utilita Energy and partners launch smart energy trial

woman using heating controls
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Utilita has joined forces with the smart technology innovator Hildebrand, the University of Salford and the Data Communications Company (DCC), to demonstrate how a new smart energy Internet of Things (IoT) device can automate a home’s energy use in response to periods of cheaper and cleaner energy availability.

The trial is being funded by the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero to innovate the functionality of the smart meter system in the interest of reaching its 2050 net zero obligation.

Hildebrand’s Standalone Auxiliary Proportional Controller (SAPC) is a device connected to the DCC communications infrastructure, that communicates with and proportionally controls power loads within the home, including internet-connected white goods, heat pumps, energy storage batteries used in conjunction with solar PV, and the charging of electric vehicles.

This will enable an automatic shift of the power consumption – up or down, or on and off – of connected items in response to the National Grid energy mix, and households will be better equipped to respond to the UK’s Electricity System Operator’s (ESO) Demand Flexibility Service (DFS), for example.

Utilita’s role in the trial will be to install the new Smart Energy Control hub technology into homes that use low carbon technologies such as heat pumps, EV chargers and solar battery storage, and track the technology’s performance in helping to reduce energy consumption. The trial is due to begin in August 2024 and will run for six months.

As the UK’s only supplier with a 95 percent smart-installed customer base, for more than a decade, Utilita has been an early

Archie Lasseter, Head of Sustainability at Utilita, said:

The ESO Demand Flexibility Service is vital in helping homes access cheaper and greener energy, but its reliance on consumers to act is one of its main challenges.

As experts in consumer energy behaviour, and based on our recent consumer focus groups with those who took part in Utilita’s Power Payback sessions, we identified the reliance on consumers to remember to make changes was one of the scheme’s biggest challenges. Despite the greatest intentions, life gets in the way of making changes at home.

Hildebrand’s Energy Control technology will enable an automatic adjustment of the energy consumption of connected technologies, meaning the customer can benefit from the savings without giving it a second thought – this is a big turning point for a truly smart home.

Joshua Cooper, CEO at Hildebrand, said:

Our new Smart Energy Control SAPC device features a giant leap in grid flexibility. Due to its much larger data capability it can communicate with multiple technologies simultaneously and holds individual control schedules. It also has a sophisticated control to turn connected technologies up or down like volume control rather than old-school on or off. And the new innovation can optionally provide feedback to the grid with things like temperature or humidity readings or heat pump flow temperatures.

Utilita has around twice as many smart-enabled households than any other energy supplier, making it the perfect partner for this project. We expect our latest innovation will provide another tangible proof point of the financial and environmental benefits of being smart-installed.

George Walters, Utilita’s Head of Home Services, said:

Domestic energy flexibility is a key component in helping the UK to reach net zero and automating that is a sure-fire way to accelerate households’ efforts.

The rollout of Hildebrand’s Smart Energy Control device will become a critical moment for the smart home movement. Not only will it allow households to make their energy spend go further, and protect the planet, but it will put the pressure on manufacturers to make their items communicable, enabling every household to benefit, not only those with low carbon technologies.