Western Power Distribution - Smart Hooky energy consumption monitoring project

The Smart Hooky project was carried out through a partnership of technical experts - Western Power Distribution (WPD), AND and Renesas - supported by the National Energy Foundation and the Hook Norton Low Carbon Club, a local community group providing support to its residents to help them reduce their carbon footprint and save money.

Smart Hooky - objectives

The two main objects of the project were to test:

  1. New energy monitoring technology designed to help residents view their electricity consumption on a near real-time basis.
  2. Whether  the technology, alongside an engagement strategy, would help residents to shift their consumption of electricity from peak times to off-peak times, thereby reducing the overall demand for electricity from the grid.

Our role

A brief technical summary of the Smart Hooky project is available on WPD’s Innovation website. We were appointed to work alongside the Hook Norton Low Carbon Club to lead on the consumer engagement part of the project. Specifically, our role was to:

  • Recruit residents willing to participate in the trial. The target was to get 150 nodes installed in clustered areas within Hook Norton village.
  • Organise the installation of the nodes in homes using WPD staff and volunteer residents.
  • Engage with the residents to inform and encourage a change of energy use behaviour depending on the data received.
  • Communicate with the residents on the progress and findings of the project.
  • Develop all communication materials needed for the engagement part of the project - for example, leaflets, posters, blogs, newsletters, press releases, etc.
  • Develop the online customer interface so that residents could logon and privately view their home electricity consumption, as well as view the total village electricity consumption, which was made available to all residents.  

Data collection and analysis

In total, 70 participants expressed interest in the project and 48 nodes were installed in properties. An initial trial was conducted with a small number of residents. They were provided with login access to view their personal data and invited to feedback on the tool itself and how it could be used to engage with the residents involved and encourage behaviour change.

Subsequently, two community events were organised to launch the website to all the participants.

As the trial progressed, it became evident that there were problems with the accuracy of the data being transmitted to the web platform. WPD confirmed that communication devices were proving unreliable resulting in lost data for all the participants, with some nodes not connecting at all. In the late summer of 2013, we shifted the engagement work and based it on publishing the electricity consumption data for the 11 substations within the village as this was proving to be relatively accurate and reliable.

We developed an engagement plan to invite village residents to view the substation consumption data on the website, and to see how much electricity was being consumed and its cost, both at a village and substation level. In addition, a supplementary postcode to substation lookup tool was produced, thereby enabling residents to easily locate which substation was providing their energy.

WPD produced a detailed close down report on the Smart Hooky project, which included a contribution by the National Energy Foundation (Appendix A).

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We've been working with communities for the past twenty years. We've helped to put in place large-scale renewable energy projects, but have also been involved in the much smaller-scale projects which engage local groups to change their behaviour and reduce their energy bills and carbon emissions.

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