Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

Energy-efficient heating for homes

A new modular system based on a combination of different energy-efficient technologies could revolutionise how homes are heated and consume hot water.
Energy-efficient heating for homes
Renewable energy systems (RESs) could be the key to meeting Europe's energy and emission reduction targets. With energy prices increasing, researchers have been working fervently to render RESs more efficient. The EU-funded project SMARTHEAT rose to the challenge.

Generally, installing RESs at home involves a payback period of 20 years or more; this discourages homeowners from adopting the technology. The project sought to overcome this barrier by integrating multiple systems using a common intelligent control system. To save on space and installation costs, it also envisioned using more efficient storage-heating technology based on modular phase-change material (PCM) stores.

The SMARTHEAT team elaborated a mathematical simulation model and a new store model, as well as a hot water system that enables 'plug-and-flow' connection of RESs. They developed a modular prototype PCM composite thermal store solution suitable for short-to-medium–term storage of thermal energy with a control system that optimally combines heat sources and energy storage.

Efforts also involved improving temperature sensors, as well as outlining guidelines for physical interfacing of different components and installing hydraulic control. Overall, the project team developed standardised procedures for installation, integration and operation of the SMARTHEAT platform.

Expected benefits of the project include a significant cost reduction in installing and integrating RESs within European homes, as well as a cut in energy bills. The new platform will also help bring down energy consumption for heating hot water at home, helping lower green house gas emissions. Comprehensive information about this ambitious initiative can be found athttp://www.smartheat.org.uk/ (SMARTHEAT).

If the technology is effectively exploited, it will increase the chances of adoption, lessen reliance on government subsidies for green technologies and help create a greener environment at home. Such a modular platform, compatible with Europe's existing domestic heating and hot water infrastructure, will also be suitable for new buildings. If old and new homes embrace this solution, it could finally make European households much more energy efficient.

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