By Sam Collier, Head of Market Intelligence, Aico|HomeLINK
The price cap increase in January 2024 and the accompanying increase in energy bills mean that many UK residents are spending this winter worrying about whether they can afford to heat their homes. The fear about what that price rise will bring this year is rising and fuel poverty in general in the UK is all too real for too many now, especially those in social housing.
Figures from a survey conducted by Aico|HomeLINK indicate widespread difficulty among social housing tenants with almost two-thirds reporting difficulty keeping their homes warm (64.5%), while 56.8% found it simply too expensive for them to afford to heat it. However, positively more and more housing providers as well as private households are using IoT (Internet of Things) sensor technology to improve energy efficiency.
For example, smart meters show users how much energy they are using and the difference that small things like turning the lights off in unoccupied rooms can do to reduce energy usage. IoT technology is also helping to reduce energy bills and carbon emissions, lessen the impact of fuel poverty, and fundamentally improve living conditions to create healthier and more liveable homes.
With a network of interconnected devices and sensors, IoT offers a useful solution to monitor, understand and address poor-quality housing. IoT-connected sensors and smart devices in UK homes enable the collection of better data, providing an improved understanding of how our homes are performing. Insights about the home enable data-driven decisions about energy consumption and indoor air quality to be made, providing healthier and more energy-efficient places to live.
Currently, fuel poverty is leading one in four people to live in cold conditions, but landlords can use the data provided by IoT sensors to support residents struggling to heat their homes. Smart sensor products can help tenants reduce energy wastage and lower utility bills by providing them with actionable insights such as where they are losing heat and at what times of the day. However, by identifying residents in need, with damp or cold homes, landlords can provide them with the necessary support to ensure their health is not adversely affected.
This level of interconnectivity between devices is transforming homes across the country as connected technologies transform the way we understand our indoor environments and review the health of our homes. IoT can also improve the upkeep of homes using predictive maintenance, enabling social housing providers to provide better services with reduced running costs.
Products like Aico’s HomeLINK Connected Home Solution even allow landlords to gather data remotely from residents’ homes. When deployed across a housing portfolio, these connected IoT devices measure temperature and humidity within a home and offer invaluable insights into matters such as draught prevention and areas prone to heat loss. This helps landlords understand the health and safety of their housing stock so they can identify properties most at risk and step in when early warning signs are detected.
For instance, Stirling Council recently installed IoT sensors in its social housing properties, which alerted the council in real-time to early warnings of damp, mould, ventilation and any other potential issues, while helping the tenant to understand energy consumption levels with heating their home.
With the increasing prevalence of fuel poverty, connected devices more often seen in private dwellings are emerging as a powerful tool ensuring social homes are healthy to live in and run in an energy-efficient manner. By combining their efforts, both residents and landlords can use IoT for useful actions in improving their homes’ energy efficiency results.