Smarter storage heaters (CP765)

LEAD AGENCY Your Homes Newcastle
Other partners OVO, VCharge, Energy Assets
Project summary

This project will evaluate a retrofit technology for electric storage heaters, which will allow them to provide better temperature control and cheap charging during periods of low daytime electricity demand.  There are about 1.9 million households with night storage heaters in the UK.  These use cheap Economy 7 electricity to charge at night.  However, many residents find this delivers too much heat in the morning and by early evening the storage heater is depleted, leaving the property cold when heat is most needed. Increasing levels of renewable generation on the electricity grid have led to periods of low wholesale electricity prices during the day and these are used to provide cheap charging for the storage heaters in this project.

VCharge will provide the Dynamo control unit which will be added to the electric storage heaters for 108 flats owned by Your Homes Newcastle (YHN), the overall project managers.  The VCharge system enables the temperature of individual storage heaters to be monitored and then to determine how much charge each heater requires based on previous use patterns and external temperature data.  This automated system with cloud-based control aims to maintain a level of comfort set by the resident and will avoid overcharging the heater and purchase electricity for charging at the optimum times during the day.  Residents will be able to change the comfort level using a phone app or website. OVO will liaise with residents and act as electricity supplier where required and Energy Assets will organise metering.

Evaluation Methodology

Household interviews will be conducted with a sample of residents to capture behaviours and satisfaction levels with the Dynamo control system.  This will be compared to a control group who did not have the upgrade to their night storage heaters.  Data from the VCharge system will be accessed and analysed.  Both the sample of residents with the VCharge system and the control group will be monitored using current clamps attached to the on and off-peak circuits of the electricity meter along with thermal loggers in the living room and bedroom.  Monitoring will be for 12 months.

Project Outcomes

  • NEA is interested to examine the performance of this new retrofit to electric storage heaters.
  • A higher proportion of social housing residents use electric storage heaters.  This technology should improve levels of thermal comfort, reducing overheating in the morning and a lack of heating in the early evening.
  • Based on the manufacturer’s experience, electricity consumption may be reduced by 5 to 15%.
  • There are 1.9 million households in the UK with electric storage heaters and there is great potential for many households to upgrade to this smart storage heater system.
  • The variable output from renewable generators has been a challenge for the electricity grid and this technology could play a role in assisting grid balancing.
Region in which project will be delivered North East
Local Authority areas(s) / key locations in which project will be delivered Newcastle
Details of technologies being trialled VCharge Dynamo
NEA grant with gap funding Match Total
108 108

Download the final report here.

Published on 03-01-2019
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