Utility Week

Utility Week 6th December

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Operations & Assets Pipe up Professor Harriet Bulkeley "Half the trial participants said they engaged with their IHD on a daily basis, even months after it had been installed" T project team has faced numerous challenges in its construction, from harsh weather and often inhospitable terrain and topography, to a huge volume of environmental constraints dealing with fauna, flora, archaeology, and sites of special scientific interest. They are now working to complete as many towers as possible before the Scottish winter begins to set in, erecting on average five every week. If you have an asset or project you would like to see featured in this slot, contact: paul.newton@fav-house.com hrough the LCNF's Customer-Led Network Revolution project, Durham University's social science team is working alongside project partners British Gas, Northern Powergrid, EA Technology and Newcastle University to trial customer and network technology solutions that can help the UK adapt to a low-carbon economy. Our role is to shed light on how people are responding to these technologies, and the project is already creating insights into how people use smart meters and how they affect everyday activities. Over 9,000 smart meters have been installed by British Gas as part of the project and we're analysing the data collected and speaking to over 1,000 customers, face-to-face and online, to understand how they currently use energy, and how this might change. We have found a very positive response to the in-home "Solar trial displays (IHDs) customers participants receive with their smart meter. within People quickly became used to the display, and sought to were also reduce their electricity use particularly when it went into the "red" responsive to zone of high use. Almost half smart meters" the trial participants said they engaged with their smart energy monitor on a daily basis, even months after it had been installed. For many people, knowing more about their energy use through smart meters was seen as really important for managing the household budget and having a greater sense of control. Others found it gave them a better understanding of the family's electricity use – leading to some frank exchanges of how that could be better managed – while others used the information to challenge themselves to save more energy. Perhaps most striking is the potential that smart meters and IHDs have when paired with other products or services, for instance when used in conjunction with time-of-use tariffs or photovoltaics. In another part of our project, participants who were given a smart meter as one element of a time-of-use tariff told us they adapted their habits and altered their routines to manage their energy use and household finances more effectively. For example, shifting household chores such as washing, hoovering and ironing to off-peak periods. Some even changed their eating routines to maximise savings. Solar trial participants within the project were also particularly responsive to smart meters, which communicate when solar energy is being generated. Professor Harriet Bulkeley is an academic at Durham University. She also leads the research of the social science team on the CLNR project UTILITY WEEK | 6th - 12th December 2013 | 23

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