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Occupant Interaction with As-Designed Smart Heating: Impacts upon Energy Use & Thermal Comfort

Part of the Smart Innovation, Systems and Technologies book series (SIST,volume 131)


This paper explores the potential causes and effects of dwelling occupant interactions with low-carbon heating technologies, and the impact these have on energy use and their thermal comfort and satisfaction. This paper reports quantitative data of observed occupant interactions with installed heating provisions in context of previously reported monitored energy and environmental data from a one-year Post-occupancy study of low carbon dwellings in Wales, UK. The study formed part of the InnovateUK (formerly the Technology Strategy Board (TSB)); UK wide Building Performance Evaluation (BPE) programme completed in 2015. The case study reported includes nine and four low carbon single-storey flats and two-storey homes, with underfloor space heating and domestic hot water supplied from exhaust air sourced heat pumps (EASHP’s). One year monitored energy and environmental data within one of each dwelling-type evidenced significant underperformance of the installed EASHP’s heating systems as to establish a Performance Gap between the original design-intents and the delivered as-built in-use dwellings. The reasons were identified as being multifaceted including, incorrect installation, commissioning and maintenance of installed systems and issues with the thermal performance of the as-built fabric. The study further highlighted noteworthy issues surrounding the use of newer technologies to meet increasingly stringent energy and carbon efficiency targets without the necessary knowledge and understanding within design, construction and commissioning project stakeholders. Further, project data indicates that this is translated down-the-line within the life-cycle of the building and the extent of the Knowledge Gap’ is utmost among the building occupiers such that end-users are observed to develop detrimental behaviour strategies in the provision of their internal comfort levels and environmental conditions. Whilst well-intended ’on-paper’ design-intents appear to meet the legislative drivers for dwellings, this paper also highlights that the application of increasingly ‘smarter’ technologies impose significant challenges and barriers to end-users such that the original design intents can never be fully realized.


  • Heat pumps - smart heating
  • Performance gap
  • Dwellings
  • Thermal comfort
  • Wales, UK

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  • DOI: 10.1007/978-3-030-04293-6_39
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Correspondence to J. R. Littlewood .

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Littlewood, J.R., Smallwood, I. (2019). Occupant Interaction with As-Designed Smart Heating: Impacts upon Energy Use & Thermal Comfort. In: Kaparaju, P., Howlett, R., Littlewood, J., Ekanyake, C., Vlacic, L. (eds) Sustainability in Energy and Buildings 2018. KES-SEB 2018. Smart Innovation, Systems and Technologies, vol 131. Springer, Cham.

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