The app helps residents to manage heating schedules more effectively and in doing so, helps residents to save money, tackle fuel poverty and improve health and wellbeing.
The app is available for Android and Apple devices with a new user-friendly interface that puts control directly in the hands of social housing residents that have a Switchee device installed. Residents can employ a variety of customisable built-in heating and hot water schedules designed to suit different lifestyles, or they can create their own bespoke programmes around their individual needs.
“We know that most thermostatic control programmers for heating can be really difficult to change and don’t offer a great deal of flexibility for the user. That means heating can often be left on when it isn’t needed, wasting energy and money for the user. With the app, users can make sure heating is only on when it is needed, and not wasted because it is too difficult to change the programme timings. We know that setting schedules is by far the most efficient way to keep a home warm, so our main goal was to make sure this was exceptionally easy to navigate through the app”, said Tom Robins, Switchee’s CEO.
Residents living in social homes with a Switchee device installed can now alter their temperature settings easily from the app, while also being able to view the current internal temperature of their household. This can help to prevent money being wasted on heating an empty house, if delays or changing plans mean a resident will be arriving home later than they initially planned. The customisability that this new app delivers also means if a current heating schedule doesn’t suit a resident’s requirements anymore, it can be continually adapted.
The new app is the latest in a long line of technologies devised by Switchee in their fight against the rising prevalence of fuel poverty. Data depicted by Switchee’s Housing Fuel Poverty Index, linked here, revealed that at last year’s peak, one in four social homes were living in fuel poverty, putting 307, 016 households at an increased risk of damp and mould.
Switchee has also taken measures to ensure that visually impaired users can take control of their heating and hot water with the improved app. The ‘Switchee Resident’ app is compatible with the VoiceOver feature for Apple iOS phone users and the TalkBack feature for Android phone users. These screen reader technologies allow the phone to read out the user interface, enabling an app that fully supports use without any need to look at the screen. The app will read out the current temperature in the home and allows the user to turn the temperature up and down, switch hot water on and off, and set heating and/or hot water schedules.
Giving residents better control could also reduce the occurrence of heat-cycling, where the heating is put on a higher setting but for short periods of time. Having remote control means residents can turn the heating on in advance of returning home, giving it the proper time to heat up as opposed to switching it on at a high temperature to get warm as quickly as possible once they get back. Not only are short bursts of high temperatures an inefficient way to heat the home, but it also increases the risk of damp and mould because the heat never reaches the outside walls of the property.