Volunteers wanted for trial of heat pump controls
Posted by Tasha Kosviner on 15 October 2013 at 11:17 am
Is it just me, or are heat pumps the most confusing of beasts?
Last winter we received electricity bills that would make grown men weep so I’ve developed a bit of an obsession with discerning how to make it run more efficiently.
The trouble is, given the multitude of ways of adjusting it – from timers to flow temperatures to in-room thermostats, coupled with conflicting reports on whether running it 24/7 or only in mornings and evenings is better – it would take 10 years of longitudinal experimentation, and quite possibly a divorce, before I had the measure of the thing.
There is now a company out there which claims to have developed a heat pump control solution that could save me up to 38 per cent on my energy bills by instructing my heat pump on how to work smarter.
PassivSystems is a technology company with a long history in home energy management systems. Their PassivEnergy gadget is a tablet system, similar to an iPad, that overrides all other controls to give you greater, and more user-specific control over your heating and hot water. Once you’ve entered the times you’re in and out of your house, the system uses thermostats, external weather conditions and your energy tariff information to give you the most efficient heating solution for your home.
Hitherto working with solar thermal, gas and oil systems, PassivSystems is now experimenting in the heat pump market. With the help of a wedge of cash from the department of energy and climate change’s energy entrepreneur’s fund, it is developing a system to make the elusive heat pump a more user-friendly thing.
“We’ve found that either heat pumps are set up badly, or they don’t use all the information they could to run efficiently,” says Piers Bertrand, the project’s technical lead, at PassivSystems. “We’ve created some algorithms which we believe will make a very big difference to the cost of running your heat pump.”
The system’s intelligent controls will measure the internal and external temperature and the heat being provided by the pump. The controls then use software to manage when heat is delivered to ensure than the house is warm when you’re in and reduces usage when you’re out – or when energy costs are high. The controls are connected to the internet, allowing you to control them from anywhere using your smartphone, or online so that if you decide to stay out longer, or come home sooner, you can let the system know.
Whether this is an elegant, one-stop solution to heat pump control, or simply a way of adding yet another layer of complexity to an already overly-complicated system remains to be seen, but Piers is now looking for five, very engaged heat pump owners to take part in a pilot of the system. The pilot will probably start in January 2014.
Using the information gained from that trial, he’ll then run a larger trial, with up to 80 participants, starting in winter 2014/15. The trial will initially only be open to people with Daikin air source heat pumps and Kensa ground source heat pumps. Other models will follow.
If you’re interested in taking part in either trial, or would like to know more, contact Piers at firstname.lastname@example.org.
More information on heat pumps on YouGen
If you have a question about anything in the above blog, please ask it in the comments section below.
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