Intelligent heating device
DMU puts people at the heart of its research – and the creation of the Wattbox, which saves energy and money off household bills, is a perfect example.
The Wattbox is an intelligent heating device which learns householders’ energy habits and is able to use that information to make substantial home energy savings – without compromising on comfort.
Developed by DMU’s acclaimed Institute of Energy and Sustainable Development (IESD) it has built upon years of research in the field of home energy use.
The Wattbox is a “smart” home heating controller that automates time and temperature settings – estimated to save consumers between five per cent and 25% of their energy use, with the accompanying cash savings from household bills plus lower carbon emissions.
Dr Peter Boait, Senior Research Fellow, developed a prototype Wattbox in 2009 under the guidance of DMU’s Professor Mark Rylatt.
The idea behind the system was to take the complexity out of home heating.
Saving on home energy
Research showed that home heating controls such as timers and thermostats were too complicated for people to set correctly.
By contrast, the Wattbox’s smart meter display allowed at-a-glance data for electricity and gas consumption, while the intelligent computer model was able to create bespoke heating schedules based on householders’ behaviour.
Dr Boait used behavioural research, computer simulations, field data and qualitative analysis in creating the Wattbox.
The invention has gone from strength to strength. A spin-out company, Wattbox Ltd, was formed in 2009 and had companies queuing up to install the system.
This in turn was acquired by AlertMe Ltd, whose customers include major utilities such as Centrica, the parent company of British Gas.
“The device works because we put people at the centre of our research,” Dr Boait told the ESPRC funding body, “it’s also possible to retrofit the Wattbox, making it suitable for all houses, not just new ones.”