Flocking to renewables

How to decarbonize the housing sector? SuSy believes in collective action.

Despite recent advances in wind power and solar PV, nobody thinks decarbonization is going to be easy. The industrial revolution ushered in a boom in fossil fuels that touched every part of our society. The technologies based on those fuels are cheap, well-understood, and fully-invested. We might expect switching away to be the work of decades… but time’s a luxury that humanity no longer has.

SuSy is an attempt at grappling with this pressing problem. It focusses on one of the most resistant sectors of the economy, private housing, and its approach is informed by some basic considerations:

  • Our houses waste a lot of energy.
    Across Europe, around a third of our national energy usage goes into buildings. The UK’s private housing takes more than its share, partly because much of it is old and poorly-insulated, and partly because of what amounts to a national addiction to gas-fired central heating.
  • Householders hate to spend. 
    The commercial sector is slewing towards renewables, because its investments in plant and facilities are informed by clear-eyed commercial thinking. Private housing is lagging, because householders are reluctant to invest in new technology, especially when they can’t tell how to maximize their bang-per-buck.
  • No home is an island.
    Although consumer advocates and energy switching sites persist in treating householders as Cartesian subjects, economists recognize that we’re herd animals. For homeowners to Do The Right Thing, they’ll need support and reassurance from their peers as well as clear-eyed financial analysis.

Our response to these considerations is twofold.

The first part is our USP, the harnessing of Big Data techniques. Although we’re proud of the ‘virtual consultancy’ that enables us to tell SuSy users how to maximize their returns based on a few simple inputs, it’s difficult to discuss these capabilities without straying into complex mathematics.

The second part is easier to communicate. We want homeowners to feel supported, both by SuSy itself and by our user community. To that end, we will provide SuSy users with a ‘grapevine’ where they can share experiences, and with smart metering that shows them how their efforts are paying off.

Because we look at a whole range of metrics which we relate to a broader account of changing household energy usage, the picture we gain is much more complex and multidimensional than that available from, say, a power company’s electric meter.

The data cloud gathered across the SuSy user base is unique in its scope, in its level of detail… and in the account it provides of emission reductions across a sector previously considered inaccessible.

We believe that SuSy will enable the private housing sector to become a leader, rather than a follower, in decarbonizing the UK economy.