Maintenance, Smart Home, Social Housing

Creating healthy homes of the future with the IoT

As the cost of living soars, millions of UK households are expected to be hauled into fuel poverty for the first time.

This sudden rise is leaving low-income households vulnerable to cold, damp and mould. In Wales alone, up to 45% of households could be in fuel poverty following the price cap increase in April 2022.

At the same time, residents who have had dangerous cladding stripped from their buildings post-Grenfell may find that their homes are now less energy-efficient for months or even years. And as media pressure mounts and tenant disrepair claims grow, there has never been a more intense focus on improving home safety for social housing residents.

The cold hard facts

healthy homes of the future

Despite the government’s ‘clean growth strategy’ target of getting all housing up to EPC-C by 2030, research has found the majority (58%) of properties across England and Wales only meet insulation standards of 1976 or earlier, with just over 4,500 properties having an ‘insulation age’ of 2013.

In a study conducted by Shelter, 25 per cent of all tenants interviewed said they were affected by being unable to heat their homes, while 20 per cent said they felt they were being harmed by poor quality housing. Other studies also show how living in fuel poverty can not only impact your physical health but your mental health as well, affecting your ability to cook, study, keep warm or heat water.

A changing legislative landscape

As it becomes increasingly evident that fundamental changes are needed to ensure people feel safe and well in their homes, legislation is being overhauled at an unprecedented rate. The Fire Safety Act 2021 has been introduced to clarify who is accountable for reducing the risk of fires in England and Wales, and the Building Safety Act 2022 ensures a ‘golden thread’ of information exists so that resident safety is considered at every stage of a building’s lifetime.

The Welsh government is also undertaking the biggest change to its housing law in decades. Changes to The Renting Homes (Wales) Act 2016 will come into force in December 2022 to ensure that both private- and social-rented properties in Wales are fit for human habitation. This includes regulations on fire and carbon monoxide safety and condensation, damp and mould.

Meanwhile, in Scotland the Energy Efficiency Standard for Social Housing aims to help reduce energy consumption, fuel poverty and the reduction of carbon emissions by 90% by 2040 and net-zero emissions of all greenhouse gases by 2045. With legislation moving so fast, housing providers that adopt a ‘smart’ approach today will future-proof their properties and remain compliant as laws surrounding resident safety continue to tighten in the coming years.

Unlocking net zero with IoT

healthy homes of the future

The IoT offers an alternative, intelligent solution to help housing providers monitor and improve the energy efficiency of properties. Installing smart sensor technologies can not only support housing providers in identifying and reducing the number of residents living in cold homes but also help reach their net-zero targets.

Nick Rutter, co-founder and chief product officer at FireAngel, said, “As the laws on home safety tighten, data collected from IoT sensors in properties can provide housing providers with the insights needed to understand where energy efficiencies can be made, allowing for prioritised interventions and installations.

“These discreet IoT sensors can be tailored to create a network of protection, detecting everything from carbon monoxide and fire to temperature and humidity to monitor the onset of condensation, damp and mould.

“This advanced technology can take resident safety and wellbeing to previously unachievable levels, enabling housing providers to prioritise condensation, damp and mould interventions and increase fire prevention measures for residents who need it most.

“FireAngel’s Home Environment Gateway is an integral part of a social landlord’s digital transformation strategy. The fact that our gateway has Zigbee built-in and our system can integrate with existing asset management systems means housing providers can future-proof their housing stock, knowing that the monitoring of a property’s ecosystem will be scalable and expandable in the future to provide increased safety and reassurance.”

Involve your residents

Alongside the installation of smart technologies, housing providers are encouraged to have meaningful conversations with their residents to ensure they are aware of the data being collected from the sensors in their homes to help them feel comfortable and empowered to make changes for more positive outcomes.

By tapping into IoT, housing providers can create smarter, more energy-efficient homes that will protect residents today, tomorrow and in the future. Why not discover more about our Home Environment Gateway and see how it could support your digital transformation strategy?

 

This article was first published in FireAngel’s Guide to Connected Homes, in partnership with Housing Technology. Download the free guide in full here