First trial selling 'heat as a service' instead of KWh

First trial selling 'heat as a service' instead of KWh

Bristol Energy has become the first energy supplier in the UK to trial selling 'heat as a service', rather than kilowatt hours (kWh).

Currently energy suppliers in the UK can only sell energy to customers in strict units known as kilowatt hours (kWh). But through a government-backed trial run by Energy Systems Catapult, Bristol Energy is offering households the chance to buy a ‘Heat Plan' tailored to their individual home and lifestyle.

Heat Plans provide consumers with room-by-room, hour-by-hour control over their heating. Using data collected via a smart heating control system, the energy provider can calculate a fixed monthly cost that is bespoke to the triallist's home and lifestyle and does not fluctuate with the weather.

This approach is designed to give people greater control over comfort and cost when it comes to heating. Crucially, it also:

  • Provides a commercial incentive for energy providers to deliver comfort using as little energy (and carbon) as possible;
  • An opportunity for energy providers to differentiate themselves in a market; and
  • It could also provide a route-to-market for low carbon technology.

Energy Systems Catapult have been running detailed trials over the past two years with residents in a ‘Living Lab' of 100 homes spread across the UK. Each property has been upgraded to smart home levels that are predicted to be common by the middle of 2020s.

Now, Bristol Energy has partnered with Energy Systems Catapult to offer Living Lab trialists the chance to switch to a newly-designed Heat Plan - the first time an energy provider has sold heat as a service in the UK.

Energy Systems Catapult consumer insight lead, Matt Lipson said: "Many UK energy consumers find it hard to control how much they spend on their heating to get comfortable

"We believe digitalisation and smart home technology offer significant potential to change that.

"Selling heat as a service in a digital world allows energy providers to better differentiate themselves from competitors by tailoring offers to each customer's individual home and lifestyle.

"Energy services create opportunities for entirely new business models and policy options, and could provide a powerful proposition for the switch to low carbon heating.

"If we are to truly put consumers at the heart of the energy system - which is essential as we switch to low carbon heating - we need to look beyond what people say and understand what they do with energy so we can tailor services to their needs."

Samantha Nicol, head of innovation and marketing at Bristol Energy said: "Everything we do at Bristol Energy is founded in social purpose. The heat plan trial in collaboration with Energy Systems Catapult is an important step in our journey to creating energy products which are fairly priced for everyone, support sustainable energy supply and the decarbonisation of our homes and businesses. By testing heat as a service, we can truly understand what our customers need, rather than just giving them what we think they want."

 

DISCUSSION

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A Smart Energy Plan has been developed for Bridgend County Borough Council with support from the Energy Systems Catapult, Welsh Government, the Energy Technologies Institute and other stakeholders.

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The Energy Technology Institute (ETI) says consumers could be ready to move to low-carbon heat, but only if industry rethinks the consumer proposition.

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Renewable energy investment company Low Carbon has invested in district heating consortium Energy Networks (Europe) (ENE) to fund a scalable development and financing model for district heat networks.