The student-led group Energize Worcester, together with industry professionals, landlords and the National Union of Students held discussions in 2019 to direct the next phase of a longitudinal student-led study about heating in student shared houses.
Discussion involved both the social and technological applications needed to make it simple for students and landlords to support sustainable student living.
We spoke with some of the attendees and speakers at the Energize Worcester conference, including letting agent Christine Kislak, Worcester Bosch’s Richard Forrester and Ewan Sutherland. You can watch these interviews below:
Social and Financial Wellbeing
The benefits of more sustainable energy usage in Houses of Multiple Occupation (HMOs) reach far beyond the environmental. The social and financial wellbeing of students and landlords can be significantly improved by introducing more considerate heating habits. When landlords can trust their tenants to control heating responsibly, the conditions in HMOs are far more comfortable for the occupants, and only warm when they need to be.
55% of students find their accommodation to be too cold during winter, most of which uncomfortably so.SOS-UK, 2017
In the current state of affairs, many students find themselves living in uncomfortably chilly houses. Many students refuse to voice these qualms out of concern for maintaining a good relationship with their landlord.
Organisations SOS-UK, Worcester Bosch and The University of Worcester designed Energize Worcester to seek to remedy these problems to benefit both students and landlords, as well as helping lower net carbon emissions in HMOs.
The New WAVE by Worcester Bosch
Ewan Sutherland of Worcester Bosch presented some of the technologies being developed and installed in shared households, namely the Smart Thermostat Wave, which can be viewed and controlled by tenants through a smartphone app.
Research conducted by Worcester Polytechnic Institute and University of Worcester in 2019 has revealed that students using the predecessor to the Wave system in their household are noticeably more energy conscious than those who don’t. As well as having access to such technologies, students can also be provided with financial incentives to become more energy conscious.
Even in the case where a household uses much less energy than they are afforded, they still are not reimbursed for the money they have saved, in most occupation agreements student sign.Tristan Andreani, Worcester Polytechnic Institute
One such incentive is the implementation of capped energy expenses in inclusive rent bills, where tenants can use the Wave app to ensure that they do not exceed the cap. This way, students are encouraged to be more actively responsible for their energy consumption and to monitor and control temperatures within their household, significantly improving living conditions.
Testing Student Controlled Heating.
The impact will be measured through interviews and surveys amongst landlords, students and key professionals working in student housing.
Following the discussions between students, landlords and corporate insiders from Worcester Bosch, University of Worcester and SOS-UK about energy usage and living conditions, Energize Worcester was able to set the focus for the next phase of the project.
This will include testing by the WPI researchers of individual controls for students in their bedrooms in 5 test properties between March and May 2020*.
A decisive outcome will provide insight into the way in which the Wave system is used by tenants, as well as its practical value and collective saving on household heating bills. As such, installing systems like the Bosch Wave could support sustainable and comfortable student living.
The images above showcase some of the insightful discussions between landlords, tenants and members of the University of Worcester community. Amongst those in the discussion were Students Union president Harry Lonsdale and the University’s Director of Sustainability Katy Boom.
Learn more about the University of Worcester and sustainable living:
*further research has been placed on hold following COVID-19.