Homely DFS Assist empowers heat pumps to help protect the grid in breakthrough study

Homely is the smart controller that optimises heat pumps. This winter, Homely’s DFS Assist service has been used in a first-of-its-kind service to automatically balance supply and demand on the UK electricity grid, helping homeowners gain rewards from suppliers, whilst remaining warm and comfortable.

Towards the end of 2022, National Grid ESO introduced its Demand Flexibility Service (DFS), asking consumers to reduce electricity consumption during certain time slots. The goal being to reduce the network’s dependence on expensive and polluting fossil fuel peaking plants. This gave Homely the opportunity to give a real world demonstration of its load balancing capabilities.

Dr Karolis Petruskevicius, Homely inventor and Head of Technology explains: “Heat pump owners tend to be environmentally-conscious and aware of what is happening in the energy space. We know many of our Homely customers have signed up with their energy providers to participate in DFS events. We launched Homely DFS Assist to help them participate automatically, protecting the grid while maintaining a comfortable home.”

Each time there was a DFS event, Homely automatically created a new heating schedule for each home, planning for participating customers’ heat pumps to switch off during the event. Homely works out exactly the most efficient way to do this, using its existing understanding of the unique thermal characteristics of each home and fine-tuning the flow temperature at which the heat pump operates in real time.

Figure 1: Homely controls heating by intelligently varying radiator flow temperatures. This approach unlocks flexibility: in this chart you can see that fairly small changes to flow temperatures in the hours running up to the flexibility event enabled the heating to reliably turn off for an hour in the morning

Impressive results

After crunching all the data, it’s clear that Homely DFS Assist proved highly effective, automatically shifting significant volumes of electricity to help balance supply and demand.

On colder days, each member of the Homely DFS Assist cohort shifted an average of 650 watt-hours of energy out of the peak period. This comfortably beats the energy savings that are usually achieved by making manual interventions like pausing a washing machine or dishwasher, delaying cooking, or turning the lights off.

What’s even more impressive is that these energy savings proved consistent whether the events occurred in the morning or evening. In fact the response was even higher in the mornings. This isn’t typically the case with other appliances which have lesser flexibility in the morning.

A scalable solution

Importantly, this approach to flexibility is highly scalable.

During the three months of Homely DFS Assist, there was an 81% participation rate in DFS Events with no discernible drop off as the winter wore on. One customer described participation as “effortless” – Homely did the hard work behind-the-scenes with technology taking on the heavy lifting of balancing networks, rather than customers.

With hundreds of thousands of heat pumps expected to be fitted over the coming years, this sort of approach will allow homeowners and Homely to work together to have a significant and direct impact on network protection.

Figure 2: During the 90 minute live DFS Event on the afternoon of January 23rd the impact of Homely DFS Assist was dramatic – note the reduction in power after 16:30. Imagine this degree of demand flexibility scaled up to entire communities. Clearly, heat pumps, when controlled by Homely DFS Assist, can be a critical resource for grid balancing.

About Homely

Homely is Manchester-based Evergreen Energy’s principal Smart Home product. Its everyday purpose is to enable a homeowner to run their heat pump at its maximum possible efficiency, without ever needing to compromise on comfort. Real-world testing has shown there is no more effective way to optimise a heat pump than with Homely.  

Homely is available for purchase via distributors including Freedom and Midsummer.

About Homely DFS Assist

For more information about Homely DFS Assist, or for more information about the work Homely is doing around domestic energy flexibility, please contact Jamie Elliot on 07825 399227.

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