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The heat is on for regional inventors
SETTING the dial on old electric storage heaters could soon be a chore of the past, thanks to a North-East invention which claims to make heaters more efficient and cost effective.
North-East social housing company Gentoo has offered to trial cuttingedge technology Thermionix, a control system which works by using the weather forecast to predict how much energy each heater will use, rather than relying on householders setting them every day.
Developed with the support of Newcastle Science City’s business support team, the system is designed to make inefficient electric storage heaters smarter, efficient and more cost effective.
Gentoo tenants in Sunderland will test the invention of regional entrepreneurs Tony Gair and Mike Hartley over the next few months and report if it makes the heaters easier to use, if it makes their living conditions more comfortable and how it affects their energy bills.
Once their feedback has been gathered and analysed, a second and larger trial is planned at Gentoo properties.
Mr Gair and Mr Hartley will use the data gathered to finalise the product and launch it, targeting landlords and homeowners.
Mr Gair said: “Electric storage heaters aren’t the most intuitive systems to work with and depend on the user setting a dial the night before to anticipate how much energy they will need the next day.
“They are often used in social housing and quite often the people trying to manage them are elderly or vulnerable.
“People often find they are either too cold or too hot – resorting to opening their windows to try to control their room temperature, which is an unnecessary waste of energy and money.
“The beauty of Thermionix is that it is incredibly easy to fit – fitting neatly between the power cable and heater.
“We are delighted Gentoo has given us the opportunity to trial the product with its residents and they clearly see the potential benefits to their customers, to the environment and to their heating engineers, who dedicate a great deal of time to answering calls from residents struggling to understand their heating.”
Mr Gair originally brought his idea for the product to Newcastle Science City after winning a business support competition.
The team introduced him to Mike Hartley, from business and management consultants Kepier and Company, and the two joined forces.
Simon Green, head of business support at Newcastle Science City, said: “Thermionix is a great example of the way innovation should happen.
“Tony identified an issue from his own experience and was determined to come up with a solution. We’re really looking forward to seeing the results of the trial.”