Information for residents

What is the BREATHE project?

BREATHE is a real-world smart energy project happening in Barnsley, South Yorkshire. It is exploring the potential to shift energy demand from the grid in response to price, carbon intensity or grid constraints. This is done using a smart control system to manage the flow of electricity from your solar panels, through your battery and to your air source heat pump. This has the potential to not only help reduce peak demand on the grid, but save you money on your energy bills too!

Is my home eligible to become a BREATHE home?

Yes, if you are a Berneslai Homes resident with a Mitsubishi Air Source Heat Pump fitted after 2015. Your home qualifies whether it has solar PV or not.

What will happen if I become a BREATHE home?

BREATHE homes are given a new smart battery and control system. These can stay in the home even after the project has finished, so you can continue to benefit from them.

You will be able to control your heating via an app on your phone. Energise Barnsley will review your electricity bill tariff and advise on any savings to switch tariff, or to make use of time of use tariff's in conjunction with the installation of the battery.

Some small monitoring devices will be put in your home – in the living room and a bedroom – to record temperature and fresh air. These help researchers understand how energy use affects the indoor environment. These will be removed at the end of the project.

You will also be asked to complete a short survey and interview to give us more background information. This may be done in person, online or by phone. A follow-up survey and interview will be completed at the end of the project.

What are the possible benefits of taking part?

You will be contributing to the fight against climate change by helping researchers develop smart technologies to help balance the grid and reduce carbon emissions. You will also be given a free home battery (which can remain in your home after the project is over), and there is potential that your energy bills may decrease. Homes without solar will receive a 2-year cash incentive which is the approximate additional savings those with solar generation make through the installation of the battery.

Are there any drawbacks or risks to taking part?

You will lose some storage space to accomodate the smart battery.

The smart controller and monitoring devices are small, silent and unobtrusive, but some require being plugged in. However, these devices consumption very little energy.

Researchers may need to visit you once every six months or so to collect data from the monitoring devices. These pre-arranged visits will be brief and Covid-compliant.

Will having the battery affect my electricity supplier?

No. That is up to you. But you may find that you can get a better deal by switching to a Time of Use (ToU) Tariff if that suits your times of energy usage in the house.

What do BREATHE residents think about it?

"That graph is great . Hopefully we are still doing well as we are trying to avoid extra usage between 4 and 8 pm... It's great to visually see how we are saving and avoiding those peaks".

What about confidentiality?

All of the energy, environmental, survey and interview data collected will remain confidential in line with GDPR requirements. All data will be anonymised and no information that could identify you will be included in any reports or publications.

What will happen to the results of the research study?

The results of the project will be published in academic journals and will presented at project meetings and conferences.

An end of project event will also be organised for residents to share the findings.

Who is organising and funding the research?

The project is funded by BEIS UK and it is led by Energise Barnsley. Passiv Systems are designing and managing the smart control system. The academic lead is Oxford Brookes University. Berneslai Homes are the housing providers in the project.

The project has been ethically approved by Oxford Brookes University’s Research Ethics Committee (UREC).

When is BREATHE happening?

The study began in 2019 and will run until spring 2022.

How many more homes are you looking to recruit?

As of March 2021 we are looking to recruit a further 22 homes before September 2021.

Who do I contact to join the project and by when?

The best way is to contact your tenant liaison officer or Energise Barnsley, or by clicking here. The deadline for joining the project is September 2021.

What electricity bill savings have residents seen so far?

The smart home devices optimise the best use of the air source heat pump, making it more efficient for the home. For those tenants who have switched to a time of use tariff, savings can be as high as a 40% reduction in electricity bills.