The 2020s is the decade to decarbonise heat and there is much excitement at Mixergy around the role that smart and connected hot water cylinders can play in helping social landlords to make the challenging transition to low carbon heating. Ambitious policy and tightening regulations are rapidly accelerating the uptake of Mixergy tanks in new build housing where systems can be easily installed alongside heat pumps, solar PV and solar thermal, as well as conventional boiler or electric heating systems.
But the greater challenge (and opportunity) lies in the decarbonisation of heat in existing housing stock where the introduction of innovative technology solutions typically throws up problems. At Mixergy, we can support social housing providers in the transition from the old to the new with smart, connected hot water storage which gives tenants a better, faster and cheaper solution for their hot water needs whilst also reducing carbon emissions.
First, it’s about the economics and how Mixergy tanks can help tenants to cut their energy bills.
Dumb conventional tanks take hours to heat up and are incredibly inefficient in that the whole volume of water needs to be heated. Mixergy tanks use thermal stratification to only heat what you need (actually this is typically just 40% of the tank volume) meaning faster recovery and lower heat losses. And because Mixergy tanks only heat the hot water you need, energy (and money) is saved every time a full tank is not heated!
The Mixergy tank can also be easily programmed to take advantage of off-peak tariffs (like Economy 7 or 10) or new dynamic time-of-use tariffs. For example, Octopus Energy’s Agile tariff offers very cheap electricity at certain times of the day, even paying its customers to take electricity when there is excess on the grid. This means tenants can use smart scheduling to prioritise heating the Mixergy tank only during the cheap periods and can save between 10% and 40% on hot water bills.
For tenants on mains gas, Mixergy has been demonstrated to save up to 21% on gas consumption through better, smarter control of the cylinder set-point temperature, and on average 12% reduction in gas consumption in hot water production. (Verification from the Energy Savings Trust found here.)
Aside from these direct savings, Mixergy tanks provide a zero-cost way for residents to improve their understanding of energy efficiency by being able to interact through a simple and intuitive gauge or through the Mixergy App. Smart energy controls are now more accessible and should not be limited to those households who have the cash and inclination to invest in a Nest or Hive device. Through education and engagement, residents can be empowered to realise additional savings on their total energy costs. At the same time, social landlords can embrace and facilitate the connectivity to help their tenants to better program their heating systems and avoid unnecessary energy consumption and costs.
Read our case study from Ocean Housing to see a real example of the cost, carbon and energy impact Mixergy can have. Highlights below:
For years social housing providers have played a leading role in the nascent energy transition, decarbonising homes through a melee of government initiatives and ad hoc funding streams. As the current UK Government and devolved administrations commit to even more ambitious targets for a green recovery, and the wholesale decarbonisation of new and existing homes, it seems certain that social housing will be front and centre of what promises to be a massive challenge.
Schemes such as the Welsh Government backed Optimised Retrofit Programme (ORP) are tackling the issue head on with an ambitious programme to develop the local green economy and contribute to the goal of decarbonising 1.4 million Welsh homes by 2050. But how to do it?
Optimising the use of zero and low carbon energy is a key function of the Mixergy tank. As well as being designed to operate with multiple energy sources now, our system is future-proofed for the roll-out of low carbon heating technology in the years ahead – like heat pumps and hydrogen boilers.
But these technology innovations will not be delivered overnight; social housing providers will be grappling with the phase-out of natural gas and oil boilers for the next 10 years and more. Simply installing a Mixergy tank to an existing boiler can reduce average gas consumption for hot water production by 12% and by taking advantage of smart scheduling carbon emissions can be reduced by >15%. And should the time come for the boiler to be replaced by a heat pump, all Mixergy tanks are now ‘heat pump ready’ such that you can easily make the change to your heating system without worrying about the cylinder.
The Mixergy tank can also harness free solar energy through a new embedded PV diverter. This means you can easily connect a PV array to the tank to heat water using the spare electricity being generated from the sun which would otherwise go to the grid. In this way, the Mixergy tank becomes a bit like a lithium ion battery solution, but 4-5 times less expensive. The Mixergy tank can also connect to solar water heating panels which can then use a boiler or immersion to top-up the tank in winter months.
Only heating what you need, the Mixergy controller can ensure that a larger portion of the tank is available for surplus renewable energy to heat the water. This is unlike conventional cylinders which reduce the opportunity to optimise the self-consumption of renewable energy by heating the entirety of the tank by default. And because of the smart controls which are built-in to the Mixergy tank, each system can be optimised to prioritise the lowest cost and lowest carbon energy source.
We understand that optimising the operating costs of systems installed in social housing stock can create real savings for overstretched budgets, enabling funds to be re-invested on improvements elsewhere. Mixergy’s cloud connectivity and enterprise dashboard lets housing management teams remotely monitor their fleet of tank through a single IOT platform. Valuable data insights can then be uncovered to inform pre-emptive and planned maintenance.
By having remote access to the status of the Mixergy tank, and insights into what a fault might be, maintenance managers and contractors can better manage operations. Minor issues can potentially be solved remotely over the phone with the tenant – saving a trip on an unnecessary engineer call-out. More complex problems can be diagnosed remotely such that when the engineer does go to site, they do so with the right parts and an understanding of what needs to be done, increasing first time fix rates. This provides a better service to tenants and supports a more positive dialogue with the landlord and their contractors.
Mixergy’s free software and firmware updates can be delivered remotely to ensure tenants have the most up-to-date systems. In the same way, new product and service solutions can be made available to landlords as they come available.
Mixergy also offers clear benefits from a health and safety perspective by monitoring and controlling the water environment to prevent unhygienic conditions. A fortnightly sterilisation routine ensures water is automatically heated to a high enough temperature to prevent the harbouring of harmful bacteria such as legionella. For vulnerable tenants, control of the hot water temperature to prevent scolding can also be tracked and monitored through the Mixergy dashboard.
From a social landlord’s perspective, replacing an old, inefficient hot water tank with a modern, well-insulated cylinder with smart controls, provides a low-cost, high value solution to reduce carbon emissions, whether it be operating alongside newly installed low carbon technology or existing heating equipment. Hot water cylinders provide a clear value proposition and are well understood by end users, installers and maintenance contractors. Additional benefits such as ease of management, remote diagnosis, and future retrofit options for heat-pumps or hydrogen ready gas boilers add further appeal.
All of these benefits enable social landlords to make significant carbon reductions at a considerably lower cost than with other technologies, whilst also providing their tenants with hot water supply which is just so much better.
Get in touch with us to discuss your tank requirements and start saving money today!