Verismart Heating Ltd
March 25, 2018
James speaks with Louise Broom, co-founder of Verismart Heating Limited. They provide smart heating solutions for homes.
James : Hello and welcome to the property renovation podcast and today I’m speaking with Louise Broom, co-founder of Verismart heating limited and with homeowners wanting to, become more efficient, more energy efficient on their homes. I thought it would be a good idea to speak to a company that is helping with doing just that. So Louise, welcome to the podcast.
Louise: Thank you very much, good morning
James : So, I just want to start off by saying, how did you come up with the name Verismart heating?
Louise : Well, for many people, electric heating is their only option, so they might be off the gas grid, like us, or they might live in a flat where there’s no gas. So we wanted to find an electric heating solution that looked smart and was efficient, and we always had in mind right from the very start that we wanted to utilize smart technology and our product team, and it turns out the names very fitting because people always remark when they see how radiators that they do indeed, look very smart.
James : Fantastic, well I’m glad that you mentioned a bit about the smart bit because I’m sure that was a challenge in itself, right? Because they used to be a lot bigger than they are now. More bulky, more ugly looking, I would say, but the I have seen on your website looks very smart actually. So was that a big challenge? Like to reduce the size of them?
Louise : Obviously people, that live in flats, for example, have limited space. So we do have a slimline range and I do believe it’s one of the safest on the market, at 7.5 cm deep, but yeah, I mean our ceramic technology means that we can, we can have a nice slim core and an attractive radiator as well.
James : So in one sentence, could you tell us what your goal is, at Verismart?
Louise: So our vision is to deliver market leading electric heating products and smart heating solutions for all, we believe that affordable, reliable, and sustainable is a basic human rights.
James : How far do you think technology has come in the recent years with heating Solutions?
Louise : Well, you mentioned that the big old ugly storage heaters, I think we’ve all got some memories of living with those at one stage or another, but I think the biggest leap is in the adoption of smart technology. The ability to control your heating from an app on your phone really gives people control over how they heat their homes and when you add more layers of functionality such as geolocation, it starts to get really clever. So geolocation can monitor your location through the gps on your phone and it just, and tado is an example of that and I’m sure many people are familiar with it and it prevents wasted energy and therefore saves people money.
Louise : One of the most powerful benefits of smart Technology could be the real time monitoring of any energy consumption. So research indicates that domestic energy use almost becomes invisible, especially when people pay by direct debit they don’t really know how much they use in a way that it’s going in, but actually by raising awareness about how much energy you use, people can modify the behavior occurred in my household. Energy behaviors such as leaving the lights on, for example, and using appliances and heating systems have been identified as important by the energy savings trust and policy makers are really interested in behavioral change measures and early studies in America and Norway suggest that households that receive feedback on their energy consumption by using things like visual displays can reduce their usage by up to 15 percent. So the ability to see how much energy used to heat each room every hour is really powerful. So we’re really excited by that.
James : Yeah, I think you’re always mindful if you can actually see it yourself visually, so do you think homeowners get the sense that they’re more in control now, about being able to control the efficiency of their home.
Louise : Yeah, I think so definitely with the new technology
James : Not being surprised by any huge electric that bills down the line, I think their definitely reducing that, so that’s good.
James : With energy consumption and being environmentally friendly at the forefront of people’s minds, what percentage of people are switching to electric heating systems?
Louise : I’m not sure I could give you an exact percentage on that, but I do know that there’s a huge pressure to find alternatives to natural gas. So the government is committed to reducing emissions by eighty percent by 2050 and obviously heating produces a large amount of those emissions. So in order to hit that target, extensive de-carbonization programs will have to be put in place and what that means is around 20,000 homes a week will need to be retrofitted with alternative gas over the next 20 to 25 years, and direct electric heating represents a low cost solution which is easy and quick to deploy and decarbonization of the electricity sector as well under way with most of the capital costs been shouldered by the energy companies and when you compare this to the capital investment required for something like heat pumps, you might not see the return on investment in a new build apartment are well insulated property, for example, whether the consumptions low, despite the higher fuel costs.
James : How smart have electric heat has become over the last decade?
Louise: So we’ve already on some of the Wifi and geolocation features as well as the benefits of real time feedback on energy behaviors. I think it’s a massive leap forward, like I said, from the clunky old storage heaters that we’ve all lived with at some point where you were at boiling and by the time you get home from work, it’s freezing and there’s no controllability and generally they’re just not really suited to modern day living. But new energy efficiency regulations which were introduced from January this year called LOT20, state that all space heaters must be 24-7 programmable, thermostaticly controlled and the must either have remote control from an app, or adaptive start stock control, which means it knows when to start heating in order to get to the room to the required temperature at the right time or open window detection and this means a lot of storage heaters and cheap panel and convector heaters will no longer be manufactured from this year and that’s something that, you know, not many people are aware of I don’t think, and of course I haven’t even mentioned the connected home now, which is such an exciting development, our radiators are now compatible with Amazon Echo, which means you can ask Alexa to adjust the temperature from the comfort of your sofa. The potential is massive in the future for several smart devices to all link together and make heating seamless and intuitive.
James : Thats amazing, when you can start doing that as well. With these home devices. I mean, do you have any plans for other devices in the near future now that you’ve reached Alexa,
Louise: What to link them to?
James : Yes Google home for example, I think is one of them.
Louise: No just Amazon echo at the moment
James : What is the average price comparison of your products vs a combi central heating system for instance?
Louise: Ok so this may be a moot point given the de-carbonisation targets that we’ve been discussing, but here we go. So I did some, some research online as to how much I thought it would cost to install gas. Obviously, you know, there’s going to be a variation in what people get quoted. but this is what I found online. So based on a small two bedroom bungalow, the cost of gas central heating will be around £2350.00 with the following breakdown, gas boiler supply and installation, £1060.00. Radiator parts and labour £830.00. Pipe supply and installation £230.00, and extra parts and labour my about £23000. So for electric heating system it would range from £1,379.95 to £1969.85 depending on which brand you went far. This is based on needing a 1kilowatt radiator for the kitchen, 2 Kilowatt for the lounge, 1 kilowatt in each bedroom, and a 750 in the bathroom, and obviously that’s based on retail price
James : I think to do at the installation costs it’s massively different and it’s probably just self explanatory, but they’re just easier to install and they’re not as complex I guess.
Louise : Yes, you can just plug them in.
James : Could you talk about your range of products and some of the benefits that come with them?
Louise : Yep, so all our radiators have a ceramic core and we specifically chose ceramic products for the high thermal enersia. So basically this means that once it’s warm it stays warm for longer. The ECO got ceramic in it and therefore it takes the longest to heat to it, but it also stays warmer for longer, and this product is best suited to properties that have also got high termal enersia themselves, such as old properties with big stone walls, for example, the eco slim line and the eco curve are virtually identical except the curve has got a bowed from. So some people prefer that, and as the name suggests, they’re both very slim at only 7.5cm depth. This makes them ideal for when space is limited, they heat up quickly and made great for a modern are well-insulated properties where there’s minimal heat loss, they’ve got a baffled front, which optimizes the convection process to get the room up to temperature quickly and once the temperature it maintains using the heat retained in the ceramic blocks. So this makes it super stylish and efficient solution from modern apartments and offices.
Louise: The Eco wi-fi is one the most excited about so you can control it from your smartphone or your laptop and it gives you real time feedback on energy consumption. And as I said, the latest features, a geolocation and Amazon echo compatibility. We also supply towel rails, and water heaters for bigger projects.
James : With the Eco wifi setting that up, you can literally set this up yourself, do you think? just by reading the instructions or do you require any professional help?
Louise : No it’s quite simple. You just download the app and login and if you go.
James : Brilliant. I love the way that it’s moving forward. Um, so what’s, what considerations do you need to make to ensure your product’s operate at higher efficiency?
Louise : So we always advise our customers to insulate first around 35 percent of heat escapes through the walls, 24 percent through the roof and 15 percent through the floor. So it’s imperative to insulate before considering upgrading your heating system. Otherwise you are literally heating the outdoors, letting the heat escape straight out, and next would suggest improving the glazing of windows and doors where a further 25 percent of heat can escape, if windows and doors don’t fit properly, obviously drafts are created and heat can escape, and finally coming back to behaviour, so coming from Yorkshire as a child, I was forever being asked if I was brought up in a barn. This is the typical question you get for leaving doors open. So generally heat a living room to higher temperature than the hallway for example, and you radiate will be specified to heat that space in which it situated. If a door is left open until cold hall, radiator will be trying, venting the room to the desired temperature obviously you know, there’s a draft and it’s escaping out into the hall. So as you can imagine that means that will draw more power. So simple things like closing doors behind you, pulling the curtains when it gets dark and sharing the radiators aren’t covered or obstructed by furniture that can all make a big difference. And lastly, we always advise people to actually set a program to avoid wasting energy at the very minimum, but ideally you should use the smart feature such as geolocation and also carefully consider your heating schedule and your desired temperature. So the recommendation is to have living rooms at 21 degrees and bedrooms at 18 degrees and one degree higher than that you could see a significant increase in your bills and if your sendentary it’s amazing how quickly you start to feel the cold, but just by putting an extra jumper on, or putting a blanket on your knees, rather than reaching for the controls you’ll save yourself money. I mean, often, you know, I sit here at the desk as I’m sitting down, I start to feel really cold really quickly because I’m not moving around. So I always think, oh, well I’ll just, I’ll just pop a fleece on.
James : It’s also not healthy for you too to be in a very hot room so it does definitely does, keeping it, those degrees and those temperatures are going to have some very good health benefits for you as well. I think.
Louise : Well it’s not just about saving money, you know, we all have a responsibility to think about how much energy we’re actually using.
James : Absolutely.
James : Well if I’ve got my sofa in front of my radiator. How far should I be keeping that way from the radiator, is there like any specific minimum that you could give as a tip. Do you think?
Louise : I would say at least a foot, the heat has to be able to circulate behind it, so If you think how the radiators work, they use radiated heat and convected heat, so if the radiator is getting blocked by the sofa, it’s not going to be sufficient. So, yeah, people don’t really think about but it makes a big difference.
James : That’s why I mentioned it, because I know people don’t really think about it,
James : So what is the longevity of these products? Do you need to change any parts or carry out any maintenance?
Louise : They have a 10 year warranty on the body and 2 years on the electronics, there’s no need for any maintenance, and because they are ceramic, they’ll never be any leaks. So if they are used in accordance to the guidelines and the manual, they’re very reliable, problems occur when people do things like drying their pants and their towels on them and wonder why they are not, so they have a safety cut of feature, which I activates when they over heat so covering them with your pants or obstructing them with you sofa, for example, repeating it eventually causes them to fail, but we do have a no-quibble stop out policy during the warranty period and we do a bit of triage and see if we can find out what’s going on.
James : Could you give us any interesting facts that you think the average homeowner might not know?
Louise : Well, being a complete Geek, I think I’ve probably given you a loads of facts already. The biggest question that we get asked is “How much do your raditiators cost to run? and I know that there’s lots of companies out there who say, our radiators cost “x” pence per hour to run, but it really is nonsense. There are far too many variables. We’ve already discussed installation and glazing, but what about the external temperature, the occupancy levels and that kind of thing. So all we can do is give real life examples and then you’ve got to extrapolate this into your own situation. So if I give you some facts and figures from this year, during the beast from the East on the 28th February, because we can see all this on the computer that the consumption, we’ve got all the graphs. So here’s a summary of their running cost of 750 watt eco slim line during the recent bad weather.
Louise : So it was programmed to reach a temperature of 19 degrees between 6:00 PM and 6:00 AM, and the nighttime temperature fell to -7 degrees and during the day it reached a high of only -1 degree. The houses in 1970’s build have good installation, so the 750 watt unit was heating a small bedroom, and the total consumption for the 12 hour heating period, was 2.89 kilowatt hours. So if you pay 12p per unit of electricity and the total cost to heat the room will be 34p. and this usage represents 32 percent of the potential draw in a 12 hour period on the 19th February when the weather was milder, the total consumption for the same radiator was 9.86 kilowatts hours, so at 12p per kilowatt hour, this equals or running costs of 10p and represents 9.5 percent of the potential draw.
Louise : People always wheel the argument that all electric heating is a hundred percent efficient and the one kilowatt in one kilowatt out argument, and that is absolutely correct. So if a one kilowatt unit was drawing power for one whole hour, it would draw one kilowatt of energy. However, it’s clear from our two examples that on the 28th of February, the radiator drew power 32 percent of that potential draw period of 12 hours and on the 19th February 9.5 percent of the potential job period, it’s perhaps easier to visualize on the graphs that we’ve got and I wondered if you might be able to perhaps put these up on the blog later.
James : Absolutely. I was going to just suggest that because, uh, we always like to put some helpful information. It’s very difficult to just listen and take that information. So yeah, absolutely. I’m always, I think we’re, we’re almost at the end. Thank you very much for that.
James : It just leaves me to say, listeners if you are interested in a Verismart Heating then you can go to www.Verismartheating.com. You can also contact them by email and that’s firstname.lastname@example.org.
James : Unfortunately, by the time this actually went to air you did miss them, they were at the homebuilding and renovation show in March at the NEC in Birmingham, but they will be at the UK construction week this year on the 9th-11th October and that’s also at the NEC, the standard number is yet to be revealed, but we will put that on the blog as soon as we will know. So Louise, thank you very much for coming on the podcast.
Louise : Thank you for having my problem.