Hail Weston breakthrough could save £thousands

FRESH from its success at lifting a major business award for innovation, a Hail Weston security specialist has developed a system that could save small firms and householders hundreds or thousands of pounds a year on the increasingly-costly heating bills.

FRESH from its success at lifting a major business award for innovation, a Hail Weston security specialist has developed a system that could save small firms and householders hundreds or thousands of pounds a year on the increasingly-costly heating bills.

Tensor plc is a security specialist that won The Hunts Post Huntingdonshire Innovation of the Year Award 2008 barely two weeks ago for a system that can recognise fingerprints even when hands are grimed with oil or dust.

Now its boffins have applied the same technology to office and domestic heating systems by cracking an algorithm that computes buildings' thermal behaviour against their heating needs.

Put simply, the system learns how quickly a building - and individual rooms within it - can reach the temperature the occupants want to live or work in. Then it can either be told precisely when the rooms are needed or detect human presence and react accordingly.


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So offices that are deserted at weekends remain colder, as do rooms unused during all or any part of the working week. But they are still at the necessary temperature when necessary.

The cost of installing the HeatingSave system can be recovered in as little as six months or, for larger premises that already have efficient heating systems that shut down at weekends, 18 months, Tensor chairman Nigel Smith told The Hunts Post.

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"By knowing the outside temperature and the heat loss profile of the building it can work out the latest possible time it needs to switch on to have you nice and warm for 8am, for example. You say: 'I want to be at 21.37 degrees in this room at eight o'clock.' Then it's up to the computer.

"You'd be surprised by the number of business premises where the heating is on on Saturdays, Sundays and Bank Holidays when there's no one there. And a lot of people shut down over Christmas and New Year.

"What's unique is that our scientists have calculated the algorithm. That's unique. We've taken our clever electronics and software that are already proven and applied them to this.

"The biggest winners will be small businesses. Gas prices have virtually doubled in a year and there's no real indication that they're coming down along with oil prices."

Mr Smith's chosen example is a firm of solicitors that works Monday-Friday and pays around £10,000 a year to heat its offices. "They would save £2,000 a year with a system that costs about £1,000."

Tensor says most central heating systems, based on technology originally developed a century ago, are hopelessly inefficient. A domestic HeatingSave system costs £428 plus VAT, including the software, and £11 more for a small business. A system for a large multi-site business comes in just below £3,000. In each case users could save between 15 and 30 per cent of their heating bills - and reduce carbon emissions - by making their systems 95 per cent efficient.

Mr Smith reckons it takes about 30 days for the kit to identify any building's optimal thermal performance on the basis of how it is used.

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