Centrica Offers Home Solutions to Keep A Watchful Eye for Consumers


Centrica Is Offering Remote Solutions for Smart Home Diagnostics – And a Strategic Approach to Energy Use

A smart home should ideally act as an additional member of the household, intervening proactively to keep things running smoothly. And this should occur whether the human occupants of the house are physically present or not, and especially when they may not even be aware that a problem exists.To this end, Centrica has introduced Home Solutions, a business unit dedicated to implementing remote diagnostics and monitoring of various elements of the smart home. Home Solutions covers both the physical fabric of the house, and its underlying infrastructure.

The Intelligent Boiler

Centrica is the parent company of British Gas, and its Home Solutions offering includes tight integration with the existing gas installation in the home. Centrica’s Boiler IQ is a smart monitor that keeps a constant eye on your gas boiler, and reports its findings back to British Gas.

Under the Home Solutions programme, British Gas / Centrica will send an engineer round to fit a small monitoring device either inside or alongside your existing boiler. This smart sensor sends information to a Hive Hub which the engineer connects to your broadband router. Once complete, the set-up enables British Gas to monitor your boiler in real-time.

Monitoring is constant, and the Boiler IQ device will issue an alert if the boiler stops heating your radiators or producing hot water. Once an alert is received, British Gas will contact you to help get things sorted as quickly as possible, under your HomeCare agreement or Warranty.

The Boiler IQ device’s proactive monitoring provides the engineers with relevant information on a fault before they arrive, allowing them to better understand what the problem might be, and enabling them to assemble the appropriate tools and parts to fix it.

Besides an existing HomeCare agreement or Warranty, you’ll need to own your home and be living there, in order to qualify for the Home Solutions Boiler IQ programme. Your home will also require a broadband internet connection, a spare port on your internet router, and an available plug socket close to your router.

The Collective Intelligence of The Hive

(Image source: Centrica)

The Centrica remote diagnostics ecosystem includes a water component, in the shape of the Hive Leak Plan, a scheme that helps keep homes safe from water damage. The system incorporates a Hive Leak Sensor, which can spot if there’s an unusual amount of water flowing around a home that might indicate a leak.

The integrated Hive app can help you diagnose if the water it observes is actually a potential leak or something less critical, like a dripping tap. If unusual water activity is discovered, Hive Leak sends a notification to the customer's phone, and can even help in finding a plumber.

(Image source: Centrica)

The system can be installed by home owners, with the app giving guidelines on how to clip the Hive Leak Sensor to your main water pipe.

For physical surveillance, the Hive View indoor and outdoor cameras provide remote visual monitoring, enabling customers to keep an eye on what’s happening in their homes, from anywhere.

(Image source: Centrica)

A Strategic Approach to Energy

Besides its ownership of British Gas, Centrica is also the UK’s biggest energy supplier. Through smart technology, the company hopes to harness the power of household gadgets with an energy capacity equivalent to a large power station, by 2025. Centrica’s strategy is to use its customers’ hot water tanks to create a virtual power plant that could help to supplement the National Grid, and prevent future blackouts.

Centrica claims to have developed sophisticated software algorithms capable of tapping into thousands of smart appliances to respond when the energy distribution system is under stress.

These devices will automatically use mains electricity when there’s enough renewable energy available on the grid, and pause their energy consumption when the National Grid needs help steadying the energy system.

Centrica’s energy balancing proposal is the first time that home devices are being called upon to contribute to the type of programme that in the past has drawn energy from the likes of supermarket freezers and electric vehicle batteries. Centrica plans to use domestic water tanks built by a tech startup from Oxford University, alongside larger industrial equipment, to deliver services that could automatically balance the electricity system.

The tanks use artificial intelligence to learn how much hot water a household uses, and at which times of day, to make sure that they don’t waste energy when hot water is unlikely to be needed. In tandem with the remote diagnostics of Centrica Home Solutions, the scheme will add to flexible power supplies from Centrica’s existing business and industrial customers, to give a total of around 2.5GW of electrical capacity.

Smart homes, IoT, and remote monitoring technologies will all be hot topics at Field Service Connect EU 2020, which takes place from 12 - 13 May, 2020, at De Vere Beaumont Estate, Windsor, UK. Matthew Bateman, Managing Director, Field Operations, Centrica, will be one of the keynote speakers.

Download the agenda today for more information and insights.

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