Hitting a Net Zero Home Run: The Best Sustainable Innovations for 2020

By Katie Mills, Head of Innovation, UK&I at Schneider Electric

Net Hero Podcast

2020 has been a critical year for climate action – while much of media discourse has been preoccupied by Covid-19, the effects of the climate crisis have rarely left the news agenda.

Conversations, typically and traditionally focused on policy and multi-national initiatives, have this year shifted to the carbon usage in UK households. According to the Committee on Climate Change, emission reductions from UK homes have stalled compared to other industries so, to make net zero a reality, drastic measures need to be implemented.

As with most challenges we face nowadays, innovation and ingenuity will be key to a lasting solution. To help make future-proof, smart and sustainable decisions, we’ve listed some of 2020’s top innovations for reducing carbon-emissions at home.

  1. Driving to greener pastures

The future of driving is electric. However, to make Electrical Vehicles (EV) truly viable, better access to plug-in points is required. While 90% of EV owners charge their cars at home, people without a driveway nor access to a charging point rely on public chargers. It’s no surprise that this is a primary limitation to EV adoption.

Connected Kerb is confronting this challenge through innovation. The smart cities and EV charging company has designed a platform that integrates both power and data at the kerbside. The company develops flexible charge points that make EV charging viable for every car owner– a key factor if we’re to shift to EV en masse. Each charging hub is Internet of Things (IoT) enabled and can be fitted with air quality, proximity and temperature sensors to measure pollution and provide information on parking bay occupancy. The advanced software contained within each charger enables quick and easy charging and allows drivers to take advantage of energy tariffs or even feed power back to the grid.

Also in the EV space, the smart platform ev.energy is making charging easier, greener and cheaper. The company’s solution aligns charging times with renewable energy generation and electricity market prices to enable zero-carbon charging, load management and peak shaving. By saving customers money on their charging bills and reducing the carbon emissions created by charging an EV, ev.energy are promoting the adoption of electric vehicles. With 125 million EVs set to be on the road by 2030 and 80% of all users charging at home, ensuring energy is used efficiently will be crucial in creating a net zero home.

  1. Next-level intelligence

Modern sustainable solutions need to offer something that households don’t already have, be it visibility, increased control, automation or cost savings. We now expect new innovations to apply data and learning to think for themselves and be one step ahead of us.

Smart home energy specialist, geo, is applying consumer expectation with innovation to create the first fully connected, comprehensive heating control system to use smart meter data intelligently. While the smart meter market now has many options on offer, the geo solution takes things up a gear by applying household data to inform home energy management and give back control to the consumer.

As we face the 2050 deadline, we need to think smart about how it is achieved. Innovations such as geo are bringing agility, efficiency and data science to at-home energy management to provide the impetus for widespread change.

  1. Stock up on power

With energy prices fluctuating based on demand, we can end up paying more simply because of the routine of normal life. Powervault, a home electricity storage solution, enables households to maximise their energy use. The solution works by storing up solar energy or cheap, off-peak electricity from the grid during the day and discharging it during peak evening hours.

By optimising energy storage, Powervault shifts energy usage to when carbon-emissions are at their lowest. This enables households to take greater ownership of their energy consumption, cut energy bills by up to 65% and even earn income from supporting the grid.

  1. Sustainable foundations

Government legislation is being introduced to tackle climate change and energy consumption in new builds, but existing buildings present a more complex challenge. As 2050 nears, retrofitting sustainability will become vital. Sero Group has designed a solution to optimise low emission and net zero homes. The company uses smart controls, metering and monitoring to improve energy consumption, life span and robustness of existing homes.

There are 29 million homes in the UK, each contributing to carbon emissions. While smart technologies play an important role in sustainability, to see a big reduction in household emissions, the house itself must adapt.

Accelerating the journey to net zero homes is a matter of urgency that requires us to think smarter, be efficient and get connected. Our household energy consumption needs to addressed head on and will require us to adopt new ways of living and new technologies. That said, innovations such as those listed here will enable us to embrace sustainability with ease – saving money along the way.