Greater Manchester Smart Energy project hits half way mark

Hundreds of residents across Greater Manchester are benefitting from a smart energy programme.

Over a year from the launch of the NEDO Smart Heat project,  300 social housing properties have been fitted with state-of-the-art smart energy developed in collaboration with Japan.

Residents in Wigan Borough, Bury and Manchester are helping to reduce carbon emissions while saving money on their fuel bills by taking part in the pilot project that will see a total of 600 homes have their old inefficient heating systems replaced with air source heat pumps.

The pumps are connected to a “smart grid” system which can manage the energy produced in people’s homes and help reduce demand on the National Grid, which is currently close to capacity. This uses less energy and can therefore lead to cheaper fuel bills. It’s the first time the technology has been used in homes anywhere in the world.

As part of the trial, residents are being given a tablet computer which enables them to take part in the trial, while giving them free access to the internet – giving more tenants the opportunity to get online. Special equipment is being installed in each home known as a “home gateway”, which is used to monitor and control the heat pumps. This will be used to reduce energy consumption at peak times – thus reducing demand on the national grid.

The project, a partnership between Greater Manchester’s Combined Authority (GMCA) and Japan’s New Energy Development Organisation (NEDO), will see energy demand in those areas taking part reduced and also balanced by creating what’s dubbed a ‘smart community’.

In addition to NEDO and GMCA, other partners in the £20 million project include Wigan and Leigh Homes, Northwards Housing, Six Town Housing and their respective councils,  Hitachi, Daikin,  Mizuho Bank and  Electricity Northwest with government departments the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC), and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS).

Greater Manchester has a target to reduce CO2 emissions by 48 per cent by 2020 (compared to 1990 level). Currently domestic fuel demand accounts for around 12 per cent of Greater Manchester’s carbon footprint.

Caroline Hughes is a social housing tenant from Radcliffe, and just one of those who has received a new system. Caroline found that the gas heating system in her home was adequate, but noticed that the temperature in each room was inconsistent. This sometimes led to her using a hot water bottle in her bedroom at night. Six Town Housing, who manage Bury Council’s housing stock, contacted Caroline as she was due to have a new heating system installed.

Six Town Housing are installing the technology in 200 council houses that require new systems across the borough as part of the trial. Caroline received her new system in early November, 2015.

Caroline said: “I had a standard gas system and it seemed to heat the house unevenly. My living room was always warm, but my bedroom was always colder and I used to use a hot water bottle sometimes. The first thing I noticed after the new system was installed, is that it keeps my whole house a constant temperature, from room to room. I’ve never had to change the settings since I got it. It adapts to how warm or cold it is outside and I don’t have to think about it.

The extraction unit sits outside and is quiet. I’d never heard of this system before, but I can’t fault it and am impressed. I’m really pleased all round and it has really benefitted me.”

View a short video testamonial from Caroline here.

To find out more about the Greater Manchester Smart Energy project, visit their website: www.gmsmartenergy.co.uk

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