Funding announced to help NEF pioneer new whole-house energy assessment tool

Author: Alexandra Steeland 18/02/2015

Accessing trusted and tailored advice on the full range of energy improving refurbishment options available can be difficult for householders. In partnership with Carbon Co-op, URBED and OpenEnergyMonitor we are developing ‘My Home Energy Planner’, a tool to provide householders with accurate, comprehensive and usable information on the current and potential energy performance of their homes.

Carbon Co-op, a social enterprise based in Manchester specialising in energy-efficient retrofit, has delivered over sixty whole-house retrofit assessments to date, working with architectural partners URBED. However, with demand exceeding supply, funding was secured from Innovate UK to create an open source, online professional tool which will reduce the time it takes to deliver assessment reports, enabling more assessors and providers to deliver the service and providing householders with more control over the data generated. All this should mean that the prices of assessments can be reduced and more assessments can be delivered both in Manchester and by other community energy providers around the country – good news for everyone!

Today, further funding has been awarded through the Ordnance Survey’s GeoVation Challenge to extend the project to provide a free consumer-focused tool: an open and simplified version which is free and accessible to the wider public.

By simply entering your address, this free version will use Ordnance Survey and Land Registry data to pre-populate your floor area and exposed surface area, removing the need for a tape measure from the initial assessment process. In recognising that not every householder has the time or skills to undertake a full assessment of their home, the free version of the tool will offer a quick and easy means of generating a report with 80% of the accuracy of the paid-for pro version, significantly reducing the 400+ data points required for a typical whole house assessment. The output will be a tailored, whole house action plan for the installation of multiple, complementary and costed improvements, providing people with options and choices they can adapt to their particular needs, informing investments and encouraging long-term thinking.

At the National Energy Foundation, we are supporting the development of the tool in a number of ways. Initially, we are providing the project team with insights into how householders typically become engaged in the retrofit process and how and when retrofit measures are commonly implemented. This will then feed into the detailed development of the tool, its features, functionality and outputs. Finally, we will be running a field trial and survey to gain feedback on a beta version of the professional tool, as well as user testing the free tool in the Greater Manchester pilot area. After piloting and developing the tool in Greater Manchester, our excellent national retrofit networks, such as SuperHomes and newly-acquired YouGen, will be utilised to roll the tool out nationally and to assist in scaling up the project, spreading the reach and benefits of this innovative approach to assessments.

The tools being developed are intended to be entirely open source with many people able to contribute to the tool and ultimately benefit from it. Over the 12-month development period new versions will be released and tested regularly.

How you can get involved:

  • Request an assessment. If you’re in Greater Manchester, you can support the development of the tool by requesting a whole house assessment. You’ll receive an assessment as normal, but this will allow the team to test the tool in parallel using 'real world' data from your home. This may take a little longer than usual, so whole house assessments are offered at a reduced cost. Email Carbon Co-op to express an interest.
  • Attend one of Carbon Co-op’s monthly Eco-home Lab events. As part of its ongoing energy monitor hack labs, Carbon Co-op will be testing and developing the new tool. Join the group to attend.
  • Link up via GitHub. For those with a programming and technical interest, the code and full documentation is available here.
  • Become a supporting organisation: Carbon Co-op is interested in working with community energy organisations that might like to offer whole house assessments in their area.If you're interested, please get in touch.