Using smart meters to fuel a new wave of innovative energy research

A member of the Smart Energy Research Lab (SERL) team from the Leeds Sustainability Institute at Leeds Beckett University introduces this major UK Research & Innovation (UKRI) project.

How might this work help to limit carbon dioxide emissions in future?

This research project aims to utilise household energy consumption data available via smart meters to fuel a new wave of innovative energy research. This research will help make the UK’s energy more efficient, sustainable and affordable.

How could this work show which houses are most vulnerable to extreme weather events as the climate continues to change?

As part of the project, a research team from the Leeds Sustainability Institute at Leeds Beckett University will be undertaking a Use Case Study using the data contained within the SERL secure research portal.

The Case Study is based upon the fact that in winter, dwellings experience a time lag between turning on the central heating system and the dwelling reaching its desired internal set point temperature. Consequently, this project aims to characterise the building’s thermal response and quantify the amount of time it takes for dwellings to heat up to the desired internal set point temperature during winter, and thus the amount of time in which they are spent in thermal discomfort. The time taken can be defined as a ‘heat-up time lag’.

Characterisation of building thermal response, along with analysis and quantification of the ‘heat-up time lag’, will also enable the identification of those dwellings that are most vulnerable to extreme weather events.  In addition, it will also be invaluable when considering and understanding the impact that extreme weather events and future climate scenarios could have on the energy and thermal performance of the housing stock.

Which organisations are running this – and how is it funded?

The five-year SERL project is run by a consortium of seven UK universities* and the Energy Saving Trust and is funded by UKRI’s Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council.

What work have you been doing?

The SERL consortium team have been working since August 2017 to develop the complex technical and data governance structures needed to ensure that energy consumption data is gathered from consenting households in full accordance with the relevant legislation, including GDPR and the Smart Energy Code.

Data will be stored on a state-of-the-art big data platform at the UK Data Archive, hosted at the University of Essex. From here, accredited UK academic researchers will get controlled access to appropriate data for approved research projects via a secure research portal. Project applications will be assessed by a data governance board to ensure that their use of the data complies with SERL’s rigorous data governance and ethical protocols.

Whose household energy usage data are you looking at?

The SERL team have been working with Ipsos MORI to recruit participants from England, Scotland and Wales that have a DCC-enrolled smart electricity and/or gas meter. The overall target is to recruit 8-10,000 participating households.

If you are interested in learning more about using SERL data, visit

Partnering Universities

*University College London, University of Essex UK Data Archive, Cardiff University, University of Edinburgh, Leeds Beckett University, Loughborough University, University of Southampton