A government-backed trial offering householders the chance to buy a “Heat Plan” tailored to their individual home and lifestyle has been launched.
Energy suppliers can currently only sell energy to customers in kilowatt hours (kWh), but Bristol Energy has become the first supplier to trial selling “heat as a service” rather than kWh.
Using data collected via a smart heating control system, the energy company can calculate a fixed monthly cost that is bespoke to a consumer’s home and lifestyle – providing them with room-by-room and hour-by-hour control over their heating.
The new approach is designed to give people greater control over cost.
Bristol Energy has partnered with Energy Systems Catapult, which ran trials over the last two years with residents in a ‘Living Lab’ of 100 homes across the UK, with each property upgraded to smart home levels that are predicted to be common by the mid-2020s.
They were offered three plans:
- Fixed – the cheapest plan where households paid a fixed price for a fixed heating schedule and were charged more for every Extra Warm Hour they used.
- Flexi – the mid-priced plan, where households paid a fixed price for their schedule and a bundle of Spare Warm Hours to use when they wanted. Again, they were charged for any Extra Warm Hours they used.
- Unlimited – the premium plan with no restrictions, where households paid a fixed price for an unlimited number of Warm Hours to use as they like.
A ‘Warm Hour’ is an hour when any room is being kept warm, up to a maximum of 24 hours a day.
The energy supplier is offering consumers who were part of this trial the chance to switch to a newly-designed Heat Plan.
Matt Lipson, Consumer Insight Lead at Energy Systems Catapult, which is running the trial said: “Many UK consumers find it hard to control how much they spend on their heating to get comfortable. We believe digitalisation and smart home technology offer significant potential to change that.
“Selling heat as a service in a digital world allows energy providers to better differentiate themselves from competitors by tailoring offers to each customer’s individual home and lifestyle. Energy services create opportunities for entirely new business models and policy options and could provide a powerful proposition for the switch to low carbon heating.”