Using smart technology to control commercial heating can cut energy bills by a fifth, a government funded study has found.

The results are based upon an official two year trial that utilised smart control products provided by Birmingham based LightwaveRF.
The company was selected to participate in a £500,000 government backed project in collaboration with the University of Warwick to prove that significant energy savings could be made by retrofitting existing buildings with simple and affordable web controllable technology..
A large campus building - comprising of more than 200 rooms - at the University was chosen to be retrofitted with Lightwave modules for the trial. The building was controlled by an inflexible BMS; that set the heating the same in every room. If only one was occupied, over half of the building would have to be heated meaning rooms were constantly heated despite being unoccupied. Open windows also contributed to the energy wastage.
LightwaveRF Radiator Valves were hand fitted without special tools to every radiator. The valves could be controlled via an app by occupants and maintenance staff remotely.
The aim was to be able to control any room without affecting others, and implement flexible, automatic schedules from anywhere. In every office, movement sensors that automatically turned down the radiator if the room was left empty for an extended period were installed. Window triggers also turned down the temperature automatically if windows were left open. Administrators could receive alerts via the Web App or email if windows were open or rooms left empty for long periods; of abnormal temperatures; and of maintenance issues such as low batteries.
The project found:

  • Savings can be achieved within days of installation complex or time consuming works
  • Using occupancy sensing to detect empty rooms and automatically turn down the radiator produced savings of 19.3%.
  • Automatically turning down radiator temperatures when windows were left open produced even greater savings of up to 46%.

The average annual carbon emissions associated with heating the building was 357 tonnes and the cost of heating was £44,563. From the results gained after analysing the performance of the LightwaveRF system, it was calculated that an average energy saving of 20% across the building could be expected. This equates to an annual saving of £8,900 (71 tonnes of Carbon).
The study represents an early adoption of the technology. With ongoing improvements, refinements and optimisation, LightwaveRF firmly believes that even better savings can now be achieved and results are eagerly awaited.
A more detailed thermal modelling analysis predicted that savings of between 42% and 46% could be achieved in rooms where windows were frequently left open (as the system would automatically switch off the heating).
One of the other benefits of the system was found to be that the detailed heating data provided insights into room energy efficiency performance. Offices that were under or over heated, badly insulated rooms and those with defective windows could be identified and investigated.
Pre-report market analysis revealed 3.8million buildings of UK universities, colleges, schools and other public or government owned amenities could benefit from a smart solution.
With heating contributing a third of all CO2 emissions in the UK, the technology can be a major contributor in meeting Government climate change targets without spending huge sums on building work or infrastructure projects, or adding extra tariffs to energy bills.