Bristol Energy has claimed to be the first energy supplier in the UK to sell heat “as a service” as opposed to in kilowatt hours (KWh).
Through a government-backed trial run by Energy Systems Catapult, the council-owned supplier is offering customers the chance to buy a “heat plan” tailored to their individual home and lifestyle.
The plans provide customers with “room-by-room, hour-by-hour control over their heating”.
Energy Systems Catapult has been running trials of the technology in a “living lab” of 100 homes spread across the UK, including a simulated trial last winter.
Each property involved in the trials was upgraded with smart home technology, to a level which is expected to be common by the middle of the next decade.
Data collected via a smart heating control system allows the energy provider to calculate a fixed monthly cost bespoke to the trialists home and lifestyle. This does not fluctuate with the weather as providers will price-in the risk.
Of those who took part in the simulated trial last winter, around 50 per cent opted into a heat plan and will take part in the new trial with Bristol Energy.
Samantha Nicol, head of innovation and marketing at Bristol Energy, said: “The heat plan trial in collaboration with Energy Systems Catapult is an important step in our journey to creating energy products which are fairly priced for everyone, support sustainable energy supply and the decarbonisation of our homes and businesses.
“By testing heat as a service, we can truly understand what our customers need, rather than just giving them what we think they want.”
Energy Systems Catapult says a crucial element of the heat plans is the fact they offer a commercial incentive for suppliers to deliver comfort using as little energy as possible and therefore the opportunity to differentiate themselves.
Matt Lipson, consumer insight lead at Energy Systems Catapult, said: “Many UK energy consumers find it hard to control how much they spend on their heating to get comfortable.
“We believe digitalisation and smart home technology offer significant potential to change that.
“Energy services create opportunities for entirely new business models and policy options and and could provide a powerful proposition for the switch to low carbon heating.
“If we are to truly put consumers at the heart of the energy system – which is essential as we switch to low carbon heating – we need to look beyond what people say and understand what they do with energy so we can tailor services to their needs.”