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Is smart technology the future for energy efficiency?

22 June 2023

It’s time to demystify smart technology on the ETL

Smart technologies seem to be powering the next evolution of connecting and engaging in the workplace – while their place in UK homes promise a future of technological convenience. So, how can the business and public sector harness this potential?

How is a technology defined as ‘smart’?

Products or technologies that can adapt to user needs and local conditions, modulate their energy consumption, and detect and report faults are considered smart technologies. Examples include systems like air conditioning units, lighting and energy storage that can communicate – and also optimise local energy consumption in response to demand.

A technology’s ability to do any of the above capabilities to optimise and adapt their output is a great benefit. Classifying these technologies as ‘smart’ provides flexibility and encourages capability enhancement at both a technology and a product level. These enhancements could be having a positive impact on energy savings, CO2 emissions, asset life cycle and/or operation and maintenance costs.

The ETL has adopted principles to define smart technology

The UK government expects smart appliances and smart technologies to play an important role in the flexible, efficient and coordinated operation of the UK energy system. In the ETL scheme’s Scoping Study for Smart Technologies, a set of principles were created that can be applied to future ETL technology criteria reviews over the coming years. They are:

Communication – smart technologies shall align with the definitions of interoperability, data privacy, grid stability and cyber security. 

Demand side response (DSR) – the smart technology can shift its consumption or production of energy in response to external signals from a controller.

Optimisation – by monitoring and acting upon information gathered about energy optimisation. Enhanced operation optimisation means a technology can send and receive information and instructions through a remote consumer interface (e.g. application, website, display) that allows end users to program and control devices. 

Status Reporting – relies on monitoring which allows the collection of information. For DSR purposes, status reporting is expected to be communicated to verify and initiate services. For non-DSR purposes, operational information related to the technology will depend on the technology itself.

Heat pumps: a case for cost and energy savings

Heat pumps have the capability to optimise operation, predict faults and communicate with the user. So, modelling was performed for the revision of the ETL criteria to predict savings based upon how the technology is used. It can include any combination of energy, cost and/or carbon savings.

The study found that many heat pump variants can be considered smart. Purchasers of this equipment (and the end users) are also ‘highly likely’ to adopt them due to a combination of factors, like their performance and potential energy savings. Although we do not yet have smart heat pumps listed, you can find our full range of accredited energy efficient heat pumps on our website.

How the ETL works smart

So, smart technology is already among us. The technologies backed by the ETL have reached a suitable level of maturity, having come a long way from their origins. But, as surmised from this article, they represent less of a revolution of modernity and more of an evolution of energy efficient tech.

The ETL continues to apply the principles of definition through technical reviews. In fact, when the criteria are updated, the scheme is already looking to the future by noting recommendations for what will be under review next. That means that as the smart technology landscape keeps shifting, the ETL is there to meet it.

Are you a purchaser of energy efficient equipment? Browse the ETL today. Or, if you’re a manufacturer, you can apply to gain independent verification by registering now

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