Feb 082010
 

Wattbox

Could deliver home energy savings of up to 20 percent

The adage “less is more” rings true when discussing energy usage – as energy costs rise, using less saves you more money each year. And studies have shown that householders who know how much energy they use on a daily basis tend to use significantly less. A new device called the Wattbox – a smart control unit that learns householders’ energy habits relating to their central heating and hot water usage patterns and provides immediate feedback on consumption – could deliver home energy savings of up to 20 percent without compromising comfort, say UK researchers. A great feature of the Wattbox is that it is able to be retrofitted, meaning it’s suitable for all houses, not just new ones.

Though still in its design infancy, the Wattbox is part of an innovative approach to energy efficient home improvements supported by a £2.1 million (US$3.3 million approx) grant from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), The UK Government’s leading funding agency for this type of research.

The Wattbox is designed to help people get the most out investments, too, such as solar panels, and to help capitalize on the recently-announced feed-in tariffs for small-scale renewable schemes.

In response to a recent project’s findings that existing home heating controls, such as timers and thermostats, often make it difficult for people to cut fuel costs because they are too complicated to set correctly, the Wattbox has an intelligent, automated system that takes the complexity out of the controls. The team working on the Wattbox project found that energy use on heating and hot water alone could be reduced by up to 14 percent just by making the thermostat/timer simpler to operate.

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