Family sat around a tablet

Smart tech helps to spot warning signs of damp and mould

Sovereign Housing Association, working with two commercial partners, has just installed smart home sensors and thermostats in 400 of its less energy-efficient homes.

This exciting ‘Internet of Things’ (IoT) approach will help reduce its carbon footprint and enable the organisation – and individual customers – to look after their homes more effectively. The technology can help to identify potential damp and mould conditions, so that action can be taken sooner.

  • Smart, connected heating and hot water thermostats from Switchee have been installed in 200 homes on a large estate in Christchurch, Dorset. Each device includes five sensors and, for residents, the smart thermostat gives them easy control of their heating and hot water - reducing consumption and saving money on their heating bills.
  • Sensors from North, an integrated technology solutions provider, have been fitted in 200 homes on a second large estate in Basingstoke, Hampshire. These record and analyse moisture readings every 30 minutes as well as CO2 and air quality.

Both sorts of device gather real-time data to help Sovereign identify any issues (including condensation, damp and mould) and could also help the organisation prioritise and tailor investment and improvements to its homes in the future.

The aim is to assess the issues and opportunities of a wider roll out to many more of Sovereign’s 60,000 homes across south and south west England.

Gareth King, Sovereign’s Head of Product Management, said: “This is a very collaborative three-way piece of work with colleagues at Switchee and North. We’ve been really impressed and grateful for all their support and input throughout the initial stages.

“Now we’ve installed this tech into 400 homes, we’re starting to look at what the data is telling us, spotting possible issues for our customers.

“Within the first few weeks we’ve already been able to spot where a few simple changes in customers’ homes could positively improve their energy efficiency and reduce the risk of condensation. Additionally, by analysing the data we’ve been able to offer our wraparound services (such as money and digital support) to customers who may benefit from the service the most. We have had a very positive reaction and take up on these offers so far.

“The data will also let us be more proactive. Even if other homes don’t have this tech, information from these devices will help us identify other similar homes (perhaps in the same street or of a similar age and construction) which we need to look more closely at too – in terms of repairs but also to help us prioritise bigger investment projects like replacement heating systems, insulation or even redevelopment.”

Tom Robins, Switchee CEO, said: “This project at Sovereign is a fantastic example of businesses coming together and collaborating with one main aim - to improve the quality of life for people living in rented homes. I’m delighted that, in the midst of the cost of living crisis, Sovereign is using the range of features Switchee offers. Optimising heating and hot water systems will no doubt help support residents to better manage their bills this winter.

“We are excited to continue our partnership with Sovereign, and to work with the team to turn Switchee data into information and actionable insights.”

Mark Lowe, business development director at North, added: “The IoT devices are already creating a force for good for the residents who have the smart sensors installed, as well as enabling Sovereign to make smarter decisions to deliver better outcomes.

“We’re looking forward to continuing our relationship with the team, as well as pressing ahead with an ambitious pipeline of growth in the housing association sector, as we collectively look to future-proof homes and create healthier, cleaner places to live through the power of AI and data.”