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BT Trial Smart Tech to Reduce Energy Use and Bills in 60 Homes

Thursday, November 26th, 2020 (12:01 am) - Score 3,384

Broadband ISP BT has today announced their new “Smarter Living Challenge” project with Hubbub, which over the next 3 months will trial the use of various smart devices in order to help show whether they can help 60 diverse UK households to both cut their bills and carbon emissions.

The project will introduce various smart home devices, apps and propose tips to help households. Apparently, this will include kit such as smart thermostats and radiator valves; smart lighting and plugs; apps to manage energy, food and water use and websites to compare usage and learn how to save money on bills.

The group will then come together as a digital community to share their experiences and, maybe, even inspire each other to try something new. “Experiences and case studies from the project will be used as evidence and inspiration to show how technology can make running a home easier, cheaper and reduce household carbon emissions,” which makes it sound like BT has already determined the outcome of their trial.

The findings from all of this are due to be announced in March 2021, although it’s unclear whether or not they’ll then do a larger-scale deployment (the trial itself is described as being an “initial” scheme, so we may see more of it if the results are positive).

Andy Wales, BT’s Chief Digital Impact and Sustainability Officer, said:

“BT has led the way on climate action for over 28 years and we’ve pledged to become a net zero carbon emissions business by 2045. We are keen to understand ways that our 22 million household customers can reduce their own carbon emissions through a smart and responsible use of tech inside and outside the home.”

The announcement includes the results of a new survey of 3,000 UK adults by Censuswide, which found that 63% of people don’t currently use any technology to run their homes, although 23% said they’d use more if it reduced their impact on the environment. However, despite 61% of respondents saying they are very concerned about the impact of climate change, some 43% also felt as if being environmentally-conscious is expensive.

One issue that tends to crop-up with “smart home” products is that they aren’t always kept up-to-date against the latest security exploits, which is a particularly important point since homes often install certain kit (e.g. thermostats) for longer-term use – so it needs to last a long time.

On top of that such kit can also be quite expensive, which may make it much harder to achieve a real-world cost saving from any benefits they bring. Similarly, we’ve noted that such products don’t always factor in the impact on the environment of their construction, which should ideally be weighed against any benefits they may bring to homes.

Otherwise, we look forward to seeing what kind of benefits this will all bring, although it’s often the case that well-maintained manual approaches can also be very effective (e.g. adjusting the boiler by a timer to suit your needs).

Leave a Comment
16 Responses
  1. Avatar Tinfoil Hat says:

    or to turn off your fridge because the grid is using too much.

    no thanks, love technology, hate the way some companies (e.g. Amazon) use it for their own nefarious purposes. Since BT backdoored millions of huawei CPEs at the behest of GCHQ yeah I think I don’t really trust BT either.

    Quote “The National Grid is demanding that all new appliances be fitted with sensors that could shut them down when the UK’s generators struggle to meet demand for electricity.” Smart meters go dumb when you change suppliers, and often many of them don’t work correctly anyway.

    This comment will self delete in 3. 2. 1.

    1. Avatar Andy says:

      Having just bought a new Bosch dishwasher, I’ve found that all of the models, even the base model are internet connected. Needless to say, I’ve left the machine in stand alone mode as it is none of their business how I use the machine.

    2. Avatar joe says:

      “Smart meters go dumb when you change suppliers, and often many of them don’t work correctly anyway. ”

      (sigh) Some SMET1 can’t swap. Others could/can. Almost all will (or have) been upgraded to allow them to work regardless of supplier.

      If your freezer automatically lowers its temp just before peak so it doesn’t need to use power then it makes no odds to you and saves everyone money.

    3. Mark Jackson Mark Jackson says:

      You generally shouldn’t be messing around with making a freezer warmer than the general recommendation of -18c, otherwise the quality and safety of the food you’re storing there may be impacted.

    4. Avatar Cc says:

      @Mark completely agree freezer should never switch off, but if a grid peak demand is expected in an at 18:30 and your freezer is currently at -18.1c it could switch in early at 17:30 chilling down to say -20c so that it does not need to pull grid energy at peak demand.
      If my washing machine has a ‘out of peak’ option and my energy provider gives me a discount during low usage times I doesn’t really matter if it delays its programme for an hour or two until rates are cheaper……

  2. Avatar GNewton says:

    While this is an interesting project, it would be better better if BT started to focus on proper telecom services first in this backward country. This countryis more than a decade behind of where it should be with regards to widespread fibre networks to premises. And BT has a large share of responsibility in this.

    1. Avatar Scott says:

      You’ve confused (a project that) BT Consumer are doing with the infrastructure company that its parent own.

      Gotta stop just calling it BT. Openreach is an independent company and it deserves the ire/to be called out, the folks running this Smart Tech project have nothing to do with the infrastructure you are moaning about.

    2. Avatar Oggy says:

      He’s not confused anything Scott, in his warped, fragile little mind of “BTBad” he is just continuing his MO.

      Unfortunately for Newts, to the rest of us it just make him look like a dimlow.

    3. Avatar GNewton says:

      @Scott: Openreach Limited is a wholly owned subsidiary of BT Group.

    4. Avatar Scott says:

      Well it’s a good start that you now understand Openreach is a fully formed/owned subsidiary of BT Group.

      As before, you came on to have a go about the BT Retail doing renewable stuff suggesting it should do stuff on infrastructure. I’m getting the impression you just don’t really want to differentiate between what each division does or has responsibility for. That’s a special kind of intelligence that most people advance from as primary school kids.

      It’s all a bit tiny minded/small man syndrome stuff.
      Have a good one though.

    5. Avatar GNewton says:

      @Scott: Well, the ISP BT Broadband is a broadband service offered by BT Consumer, which in turn is a division of the same BT Group who also owns Openreach.

      You simply missed the main point here, namely the irony that a company, which fails to offer 21st century modern telecom services (e.g. fibre-based services) to large parts of this country, then starts to dabble in something else, rather then sorting out it’s core businesses first!

    6. Avatar Scott says:

      Hey man – thanks for replying.

      You are still presenting an illogical argument.

      Your argument is effectively that BT Group need to tell its other businesses to stop doing things so its arms length company can deal with core infrastructure.

      Next you’ll be telling us Centrica need to shutter British Gas and Hive till such time it had connected every UK premise to the gas mains network. 😉

      Seriously man – take a step back. I get the “we need to have better” view but Openreach is the company we all need to focus on and direct our comments to. Different lines of business aren’t the point of attack, I’ve called you out on this because it’s illogical to have a go at the Retail division for the sins of it’s legally separate entity cousin.

      Take it easy. 🙂

    7. Avatar The Facts says:

      Companies with code powers have been able to install fibre for the last 30 years, but haven’t.

    8. Avatar GNewton says:

      @Scott: Well, the original article can be found here: https://www.hubbub.org.uk/blog/bt-and-hubbub-launch-smarter-living-challenge

      Assuming ISPReview interpreted it correctly, it was the broadband ISP BT which ran this trial. Customer can expect from a an ISP to receive proper broadband ISP services, they couldn’t care less about other non-ISP related gadgets in this context. This reflects poorly on BT (whatever fake division or BT Group owned entity it is) if it can’t even sort out its core business yet wastes resources on other adventures.

    9. Avatar GNewton says:

      @The Facts: You posting the same old story here. Perhaps you might also want to bring up the old Thatcher story here again?

  3. Avatar Optimist says:

    If we really want to reduce CO2 emissions (questionable because the annual increase by China, India etc. exceed the UK’s total) then, rather than go for internittent renewables which require gas stations on standby, we should go for nuclear. Small modular reactors, and molten salt reactors not requiring expensive uranium, are promising ways forward.

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