The Riverside Group, one of the leading providers of social housing and care and support services in the UK, is installing 1,500 Switchee smart thermostats into tenants’ homes.
It follows a successful pilot that has helped identify and prioritise repairs and support residents at risk of fuel poverty. The installations are part of Riverside’s boiler replacement, empty homes and property repair programmes.
Data from the Switchee devices, sent via the mobile phone network to the cloud, enabled Riverside to remotely assess the property performance and triage any issues. By sending surveys to tenants through Switchee’s built-in communications screen to assess the urgency of the situation, Riverside were then able to prioritise which houses needed attention first. Engagement from tenants was very high; 88% responded, with 65% doing so in the first 24 hours.
Appointment scheduling was also done through the Switchee device, so tenants could fix appointment times that suited them. This resulted in an 86% first time access rate for Riverside’s surveyors and gas engineers, compared to previous access rates of 60%, saving time and money. Tenants received a reminder prior to the visit and could cancel if they needed to change the appointment date or time.
As a direct result of the pilot project with Switchee, Riverside has recently won the Regional Vulnerable Customer Support Organisation of the Year award at the North West Energy Efficiency Awards for its commitment to improving the lives of vulnerable people.
Fifty seven percent of Riverside’s tenants are at risk of fuel poverty – where the average temperature is below the minimum recommendations of 18 degrees. Via the communication screen on the Switchee device, Riverside’s Affordable Warmth team offered tenants at risk of fuel poverty money and energy saving advice, HACT’s Energy Hardship Fund* vouchers worth up to £147 as well as advice about the Government’s Warm Homes discount scheme. Switchee thermostats themselves can also reduce energy usage by as much as 17%.
Riverside also surveyed tenants about their satisfaction with the Switchee devices. Eighty six percent replied of which 80% were satisfied with the device and 90% said it was easier to control their heating compared to their old thermostat.
Commenting, Ian Gregg, Riverside’s Executive Director of Asset Services said: “The data on property performance that we received from Switchee devices in the pilot meant we could identify both houses and tenants with issues quickly and easily and, importantly, prioritise the right help and in order of need. By rolling Switchee out across more of our housing stock, we will be able to continue to improve the quality of our housing and communicate more efficiently with tenants about repairs and surveys as well as the support services we can provide.
“Our recent award win focussed on the brilliant work our Affordable Warmth team has done in the last six months, proactively identifying and supporting customers at risk of fuel poverty using insights from the Switchee device.”
Tom Robins, Switchee CEO added: “This project at Riverside is a fantastic example of what can be achieved when organisations collaborate. I’m delighted that, in the midst of the cost of living crisis, Riverside is using the range of features Switchee offers, optimising heating systems and improving communications with their most vulnerable residents. A truly worthy winner at the North West Energy Efficiency Awards; congratulations to team.
*HACT is the Housing Associations Charitable Trust