W7UP2 – How household thermal routines shape patterns of heating demand
7th March 2016 Clare Hanmer

Variability in internal temperature patterns for UK homes during the heating season

Clare Hanmer, UCL Energy Institute


The amount of energy used of heating homes depends on the way individual householders decide to set heating timers and temperature set points. These settings are linked in turn to the household’s daily routines and the temperatures they prefer. Up to now there has been little research about how people decide when to run their heating and what temperatures they find acceptable.

A unique dataset of heating controller settings and internal temperatures from 337 UK homes with smart heating was used to quantify the diversity in the time and temperature settings entered by users.  Interviews with seven householders explored the factors affecting choices of controller settings.

A significant minority of the sample studied made frequent changes to their temperature settings and nearly a quarter of the sample had higher setpoint temperatures in the evening than in the morning.

Synchronous start times for heating periods have a significant impact on patterns of energy demand. The results from this study suggest that household thermal routines around 07:00 in the morning are a particularly important consideration for a transition to future energy systems with a high proportion of low carbon heat.

Changes in temperature requirements during the day