Case study

Heating controls for the partially sighted


Northumberland County Blind Association (NCBA) successfully bidded into an Energy Saving Trusts (EST) competition for Ofgem’s Energy Industry Voluntary Redress Scheme. Narec Distributed Energy were the principal contractor.

The “heating control scheme for those with a visual impairment” project was designed to pilot four different kinds of technology solutions into 26 households that have a person who has a visual impairment disorder.

Delivery of the project began in November 2018 and concluded in August 2019.

Outline & objectives

After surveying trialist homes, a series of questionnaires and home visits took place over the duration of the trial. Additionally, datalogging equipment was deployed at the pre-install visits and recovered at the post-install. This obtained temperature readings in the living room, hall and master bedroom at 2-minute intervals. This has provided valuable data on how trialists heat their homes both before and after having an intervention installed.

The four intervention types deployed were:

  • Coloured dials stickers onto any existing room thermostat to indicate the direction of hot and cold to improve visibility.
  • Task lighting to improve the light levels onto the room temperature controls to improve the visibility of them.
  • A “smart” thermostat, replacing the existing thermostat and boiler controller with a Honeywell Lyric connected to an Alexa Echo Dot, the user can use voice control to turn the heating system on or off.
  • A large display thermostat, replacing the existing thermostat and boiler controller with a Honeywell Evohome, the user is able to change set point temperature and schedules.

Outcomes

A total of 26 homes were planned for installation, however only 17 homes had installations that remained in place throughout the trial period.

It was clear that Alexa voice control with Honeywell Lyric was the best option for any trialist regardless on the level of their visual impairment, although this was contingent on an internet connection.