Consumer Comfort Choice

Across much of rural Scotland, mains gas is not available and many households use electric storage heaters. These can be difficult to control and expensive to run. During Stream 1 of the Scottish Governement funded Improving Consumer Outcomes Fund, ALIenergy and project partners Connected Response, assessed the experience of electric storage heating consumers in Oban, Argyll.

The aim was to develop a Demonstrator Project based on practical low cost innovation in Phase 2, which will improve consumer comfort, providing a range of benefits:
- better heating at the times of their choice
- lower bills
- improved comfort and health
- ability to easily switch suppliers and thus reduce dependency on one particular tariff
- future potential to access local renewable generation where available

Oban is one of the few areas with a Local Energy Plan, which helped us enormously when selecting an area to target and providing useful statistics. We selected the area of Oban to engage with because there are many households with electric storage heating, e.g. Oban around 57%. Many of these households have high heating bills and an inability to switch suppliers due to the predominance of one active energy supplier/tariff. These households have never been able to choose when they wanted to be warm.

Our project title is derived from the very simple premise that 3 C’s should be inextricably linked: Consumer, Comfort, Choice.

Stream 1 of the Improved Consumer Outcome Fund allowed us to assess the needs of electric heating consumers and it is hoped, with success in Stream 2, we can install control equipment in 50-100 homes, consisting of a smart load control switch for the heating and hot water and a temperature sensor in each living room – this will enable consumers to enjoy a customised heating experience, along with re-educating householders on the most efficient way to use their electric storage heating and controls. 

Survey respondent quotes:

“ I just don’t understand the meter”

“It’s hard to budget over winter because we’re constantly putting money in the meter”

“We’ve just got used to it but would prefer the flexibility of gas central heating”

To request a copy of our project report, please email rachel@alienergy.org.uk

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