Prefect Controls design and manufacture heating and safety controls for student accommodation. Our 3 key products are Irus, Ecostat and HobSensus.
- Irus monitors room conditions and relays data to our portal. Managers log on via the internet to review/adjust settings without ever setting foot in the room.
- Ecostat2 is similar but uses a dedicated handset for timings and temperatures in each room, allowing occupants to control their comfort, but only within set parameters. Both systems avoid energy being used unnecessarily and save 30-40% on energy costs.
- HobSensus avoids cooking hobs being left on should the person preparing food be distracted.
Reducing energy costs – use less of it or buy it cheaper?
Too many organisations focus on the unit cost of energy rather than their consumption of it. It is considered a cost, rather than a service.
But careful energy control will show a significant impact on an organisations bottom line; its carbon footprint; by becoming more appealing and greener; by being perceived as fore runners; and as a major contributor to its Corporate Social Responsibility.
Energy Report – Energy Management systems – student accommodation
The Student accommodation sector
Since the turn of the century the student accommodation sector has been revolutionised! Until around the time of the millennium, students had the choice of university-run halls of residence or converted homes for multiple occupation (HMOs). A ‘roof-over-your-head‘, provision that satisfied the basic needs of students, who were often moving away from home for the first time.
A hidden benefit of heating control during lockdown
With more than 30,000 students the University of the West of England (UWE) Bristol is the largest University in the region.
‘Strategy 2030 – Transforming Futures’ announces their ambition to be carbon neutral with net-zero emissions of greenhouse gases by 2030 along with achieving ISO14001 to set clear targets to reduce water and energy use.
Hob SensusWatch video
The way we heat our living and working spaces has not changed fundamentally for many years. During that time massive investment has been made in the gas infrastructure; from the way it is brought to our shores; the networks that deliver it to point of use; and appliances in dwellings.
The hot topic
But the Climate Change Act commits the UK to reduce carbon emissions by at least 80% of the 1990s level by 2050. The way heat is delivered will be a challenge to meet this obligation.
Fossil fuels accounted for 75% of electricity generation fewer than 1
0 years ago and 81% of heating needs in 2013. During 2019, for the first time, renewable sources provided more electricity than fossil fuels, accounting for 40% of UKs generation.
To maintain comfortable spaces in the future, while meeting our obligation, the most likely change will be heating driven by electricity.
One of the biggest challenges facing the electricity industry is decarbonising heat while still meeting peak demands during colder months.
Heat of the moment
Increased investment in North Sea wind farms has helped tip the balance, but greater localisation of energy generation will help towards minimising transmission and distribution losses. The landscape throughout the UK is a patchwork of solar panels reflecting majestic turbines in their mirror-like surfaces. We are witnessing ever-increasing numbers of roofs capturing the sun’s rays and smaller turbines contributing to the demands of local communities.
The cost of renewable energy is falling while fossil fuel costs are rising. Investment in green infrastructure projects will further reduce the cost of energy for consumers. Inertia yielding to momentum, means sustainable, renewable energy sources make good business sense.
Our desire for cleaner, greener energy is impelling technologists to develop sustainable ways of harnessing natural resources – transforming them into usable power. Heat pumps, hydrogen cells, biofuel, wind and solar are just some of the viable solutions for decarbonising heating in the UK while localising generation. Nuclear will undoubtedly play a greater part as will geothermal, where suitable locations and geographical conditions make it practical.
Control is everything
This is good news in terms of consumers enjoying clean electricity, but is electric heating the most efficient solution?
The benefits are clear. Installation is easier, quicker, less disruptive, and cheaper when compared with wet systems. It is better suited to multi-floor accommodation, has a longer lifespan and there are no on-going servicing costs. Capitalising on these advantages, it would be nonsensical to then use energy when it wasn’t required.
Take an example like student accommodation, what are the control considerations?
The ability to monitor a room’s occupancy, adjust temperatures accordingly and reduce input if windows are opened are good starters, but each occupant has preferences for their room’s comfort, so giving them easy individual control is essential. However, if the temperature can be set constantly to maximum, then that would undermine the objective. The ability to set upper limits on temperatures solves this.
Water heating should also be controlled, observing Triad warnings, and avoiding expensive energy can achieve huge savings. A system that checks element failures, detect leaks, and monitors water temperature from the inlet, through the tank to outlets in rooms and kitchens provides Health and Safety managers with evidence of compliance to water safety plans.
Simplicity and convenience are crucial. Data from each room fed to a central controller with an intuitive web-based portal, accessed from any device with an internet connection, enables managers to review the system’s performance, adjusting all settings remotely.
Easy installation is a necessity. Using Mains Borne Signalling – the buildings existing wiring can carry data between controller and rooms – making it quick and easy to install without disturbing the building’s infrastructure.
With such a system in place it is not unimaginable for room monitors to collect other data – Humidity, CO2, Light and Decibel levels, – ensuring comfortable environments, conducive to study.
The combination of reducing unnecessary energy input and using cost-effective energy, makes Prefect Irus unique in addressing all these requirements, plus, proven savings of around 40% on energy costs per year.
Cleverly controlled, clean electricity is the future for heating.