LATENT brings together academic (UoS) and industrial partners (Igloo, nquiringminds) to create a research team specialising in household energy behaviour, statistically rigorous field trials, distributed electricity supply, residential energy systems, data analytics, Internet of Things (IoT) and commercial scale household energy supply. Together, they will address the fundamental user behaviour, technical thermal response and business environment challenges of delivering decarbonised heat electricity through seamless third party control of electrified residential heating.

LATENT offers a pathway to a low risk, low cost study of thermal preference and acceptance of automated 3rd party control of residential heating systems for grid support. It has access to (i) a cohort of ‘Smart Home Thermostatic Radiator Valve (TRV) + gas boiler’ customers, alongside a growing number of ASHP households, and (ii) a cohort of households that are representative of a subset of the wider UK stock, providing a longitudinal control for LATENT. These two cohorts enable the study of the real impacts at scale of decarbonisation of heat through ASHP without the costly, time and labour intensive process of recruitment, hardware deployment, system maintenance and decommissioning which is the major challenge of all field trails.

LATENT is a 5 workpackage, 48 month longitudinal study developed to answer the following:

  1. What areas (demographic and location) will decarbonise heating via a switch to heat pumps or hybrid heat pumps?
  2. What impact will this have on local electricity demand and how does this coincide with distribution network stresses. What density of participating households in these areas would be required to achieve useful demand reduction (peak and duration)?
  3. How does the thermal property (decay rate) of a dwelling influence its thermal store potential? Igloo currently model the thermal performance of their customer’s homes to predict bill usage and tailor energy offers to customers. LATENT will extend the analysis to estimate deferrable capacity (including thermal presence – related to customer traits and circumstances) of each household.
  4. To what extent does the customer trait (OCEAN±, Openness, Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Agreeableness, Neuroticism) affect the potential for deferral of heat loads? How does customer trait influence the messaging and intervention strategies that can be applied?
  5. What is the financial and contractual mechanism that could be created between the DNO, electricity supplier and householder to make this happen seamlessly? We envisage this process would operate in the background in a manner such that the householder is passive / unaware but able to override the heating intervention if required (via Igloo app / browser / manual override in the home). Innovation around the customer/supplier contract will also be vital to engage customers, deliver flexibility and share the financial benefits that deferring of heat can deliver.
  6. How do householders understand energy as a service as opposed to pay as you use models?
  7. How does acceptance of heat disruption vary with customer trait and financial reward level?