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Renfrewshire tackles fuel poverty with IoT technology

Jan 2018 Latest News, Smart Homes | Comments Off on Renfrewshire tackles fuel poverty with IoT technology

An IoT initiative underway in Renfrewshire is helping to tackle fuel poverty in social housing and could save local authorities millions of pounds on property management and repair bills.

Working with Renfrewshire Council, smart asset management company iOpt Assets has been detecting temperature, humidity and carbon dioxide levels at 50 social homes around Paisley over the course of the project. The pilot scheme, which has been running since July 2016, is monitoring a range of properties, including high rises, cottages and terraces.

Capturing this data in near real time is allowing the local authority to identify anomalies in housing and take preventative action to protect tenants and its property assets. Consistently high humidity and low temperatures, for example, could indicate a tenant is living in fuel poverty; while high carbon dioxide levels suggest a possible problem with ventilation and air quality.

The data from the sensors installed in the homes is currently transferred over WiFi, but will move onto Renfrewshire’s Low Power Wide Area Network (LPWAN) using a LoRa network. The IoT network was deployed last year by a consortium of organisations, including CENSIS, the Scottish Innovation Centre for Sensor and Imaging Systems; Stream Technologies; and Boston Networks.

So far, the project has helped the local authority to spot a number of potential issues at its properties, including impending damp, tenants who needed help with their heating, and several occupants living in fuel poverty.

David Amos, head of policy and commissioning at Renfrewshire Council, commented: “The health of our tenants is of paramount concern. iOpt Assets’ easy-to-install technology gives us the ability to spot problems they have with energy or any issues with their housing that might affect their health. It will also help us take preventative action to protect, manage or even improve our homes – from damp and moisture detection to air quality.”

By the end of 2017, iOpt Assets had hoped to have rolled out the sensing technology to 2000 homes in Scotland, spread across a variety of local authorities and housing associations. The Renfrewshire project has delivered an estimated 600% return on investment to the council, by preventing costs that would have arisen from damage to properties over the next two years.

iOpt Assets is also going through a funding round to secure investment for the development of low-cost, battery-powered sensors with a five-year life, supported by a robust IT and data management system that can handle the data from hundreds of thousands of homes. The company will work with CENSIS – as one of the winners of its IoT Explorer accelerator programme – aiming to install the technology in up to 400,000 rented homes over the next six years.

Dane Ralston, director at iOpt Assets, said: “The results of the project have proven the business case for this service – it’s delivering significant returns by allowing the council to predict issues and be proactive with maintenance, which is invariably more cost effective than having to deal with them after the fact. It also reduces the need for regular property visits and administration, while also leading to reduced premiums in large property portfolios.”