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Energy savings from domestic zonal heating controls: Robust evidence from a controlled field trial

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Domestic zonal heating controls enable hydronic systems to heat rooms to different temperatures at different times. The first credible evidence known to the authors, of the in-use energy savings of such controls, is reported. The results and research methods are globally relevant. The energy demands and room temperatures in 68, gas-heated, owner-occupied, semi-detached homes, in the English Midlands were monitored for a year before zonal controls were fitted in 37 of the homes prior to the second year of monitoring. The other homes retained the existing heating controls and so provided a matched (control) group. Surveys and questionnaires characterised the dwellings, heating systems and households. In two thirds of the homes with zonal controls the annual gas demand decreased, in one third it increased. Overall, the mean gas demand decreased by 3.5% relative to the homes that retained their existing controls. Savings were achieved primarily by reducing bedroom temperatures, especially in the evenings. Wireless, digital zonal controls are unlikely to provide an acceptable payback through reductions in energy bills at today's prices, but they offer households the flexibility to react to time-of-use energy pricing. A matched (control) group is essential for the reliable calculation of energy demand changes arising from interventions in occupied homes.

Funding

DEFACTO: Digital Energy Feedback and Control Technology Optimisation

Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council

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EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Energy Demand (LoLo)

Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council

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History

School

  • Architecture, Building and Civil Engineering
  • Design and Creative Arts

Department

  • Design

Published in

Energy and Buildings

Volume

254

Publisher

Elsevier

Version

VoR (Version of Record)

Rights holder

© The Authors

Publisher statement

This is an Open Access Article. It is published by Elsevier under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Licence (CC BY 4.0). Full details of this licence are available at: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

Acceptance date

11/10/2021

Publication date

2021-10-16

Copyright date

2021

ISSN

0378-7788

Language

en

Depositor

Deposit date: 1 December 2021

Article number

111572