Photo of PhD student Dan Wright

New collaboration to promote energy saving in the home

A Loughborough University student has been invited to provide blog posts for international SaaS company, Simble.

The Australian-based software company – headquartered in Sydney with offices in New Zealand, Southeast Asia, the Middle East and UK – provides cloud-based software solutions to a variety of industries, helping them to enhance operational efficiency.

One of Simble’s key products, SimbleSense, is an IoT-supported real-time solution that enables businesses to adjust and remotely control their energy systems. The success of SimbleSense has led the company to consider developing similar technology for the UK domestic energy market.

The company approached Loughborough University to discuss various collaborative R&D options, and decided to initiate the partnership with a sponsored PhD.

The research of Dan Wright – a PhD student with the London-Loughborough (LoLo) EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Energy Demand – was a good match for the company’s strategic needs.

The company is now part-funding his work which is supervised by Dr Victoria Haines, Reader in User Centred Design in the Loughborough Design School, and Dr David Allinson, Senior Lecturer in Building Physics at the University’s School of Architecture, Building and Civil Engineering.

Dan’s research explores our interactions with home energy technologies and how we can be supported to save energy and reduce cost through control systems.

He explains: “Since the advent of central heating, the norm in UK homes has been to heat the whole house, with infrequently used rooms being heated even when they are not occupied. Zonal space heating controls (ZCs) allow people to choose when and by how much individual rooms are heated.

Existing research carried out at the University suggests that ZCs could reduce home heating energy use by more than 10%. Building on existing research – like the DEFACTO project – my PhD will explore the benefits of these controls in real homes by developing methods to help people save more on their energy bills while still keeping warm.”

As well as sharing his research findings with Simble, Dan has been invited to contribute monthly blog posts to the company’s website. Each post will examine a different facet of the energy debate and provide a platform for him to discuss some of the issues raised by his own research.

Kalana Navaratne, Simble’s Head of Strategy and a Loughborough graduate says: “Due to the lack of existing relevant expertise in the field, we were attracted by LoLo’s proposition to produce future energy leaders and experts.

“Dan’s energy interaction research and his study of people’s understanding and use of technologies that can improve domestic energy efficiency align fully with our current energy strategy which is to engage, educate and empower consumers. His capabilities and talent are exactly what the energy industry needs now and moving forward.

“We’re very pleased to be supporting Dan’s studies, and developing his commercial knowledge. We are also supporting the shared objective to raise his profile as a leading energy expert. We look forward to reading and sharing his insights via his monthly posts.”

Dan’s first blog post was published earlier this month. It explores how energy data is communicated to households – and asks how we can best manage potential information overload.

His principal PhD supervisor, Dr Victoria Haines, says: “This is an exciting opportunity for Dan. Writing the blog will give him the chance to explore a range of energy-related topics and share his work with a wide audience. We’re delighted that Simble have chosen to work with us in this way, and hope to continue to develop our R&D partnership with them.”