Oxfordshire homes to start trial on using ‘smart’ devices and flexible energy management

SMS and Oxfordshire County Council have received £5.3 million in funding from the UK Government’s Alternative Energy Markets Innovation Programme to find smart and flexible ways for households to use energy.
The smart homes trial will involve up to 50,000 homes and small businesses in Oxfordshire. It aims to show giving people more information about their energy use and offering time-of-use tariffs that encourage using electricity when it is cheaper or greener can help more people to start using devices like batteries, heat pumps or intelligent whitegoods that can automatically adjust when they use electricity. This means they can use less power during busy, expensive times and more when it is cheaper and greener.
At the start of the trial, people will get to see detailed information via an app, and then get personalised advice on how to make their homes more energy efficient, including the option to install smart goods. These devices will be offered to consumers through a monthly subscription, avoiding big upfront costs.
Participants will also have the option to switch to a special time-of-use tariff that charges less during off-peak hours. This can save money and reduce stress on the electricity grid, especially if they have smart devices that automatically adjust their energy use.
For those who choose to install a smart device – such as a battery or heat pump – the project will also explore how these homes and businesses can benefit more from participating in the UK’s demand flexibility service (DFS). This scheme, started by the National Grid ESO last winter, pays people to use less electricity during peak times. Smart devices can do this automatically, potentially saving a lot more energy and money.

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