25 Mar 2024

Net zero Utility

Innovative project supports customers

At a time when households’ budgets are stretched, lowering energy bills and supporting customers in fuel poverty are key priorities for electricity distribution networks, including Electricity North West. 


Using energy efficiently provides a direct benefit for customers through bill reductions, and also has multiple network benefits, such as reduced generation and less need for reinforcement. The network benefits are more crucial as we move to using electricity for heat and transport.  However, the deployment of retrofit energy efficiency measures in domestic properties remain stubbornly low, in part due to the lack of a robust, agreed methodology for quantifying and validating the actual impact of these measures.

The Electricity North West innovation team has partnered with Energy Systems Catapult, EP Group, Carbon Co-op and Manchester City Council on the Strategic Innovation Fund project, RetroMeter. RetroMeter is seeking to develop and demonstrate an innovative methodology to accurately meter the energy and cost savings of retrofit energy efficiency measures. It is hoped that having such a methodology will unlock pay for performance financing thereby increasing uptake of retrofit energy efficiency measures. Examples from around the world demonstrate that common, open standards have the ability to underpin and support new energy system markets.

For Electricity North West as a distribution network operator (DNO) the RetroMeter concept needs to address four key problems

  1. How do you baseline and then measure the savings in order to quantify the impact of using home energy efficiency measures to provide a demand reduction in return for payment?
  2. Where the DNO is forecasting the demand growth on the network associated the electrification of heat, how can energy savings from retrofit efficiency measures be taken into account?
  3. How do electric heating installers quantify the effect of retrofit energy efficiency measures when deciding what equipment to install?
  4. How do you articulate the benefits of retrofit energy efficiency measures to stakeholders, as part of the DNOs role in the transition towards Net Zero

In RetroMeter the project team is seeking to address these questions:

Development of a Metered Energy Savings (MES) methodology that enables householder’s smart meter data to be used in conjunction with weather data to quantify the impact of a retrofit energy efficiency intervention. Research to date has shown that this methodology has the potential to be highly accurate, low cost/easy to deploy and open source.

Measuring and valuing retrofit savings in this way will help DNOs to make informed decisions regarding investment in either flexible services from energy efficiency or network reinforcement.

The RetroMeter methodology shares similarities with methods explored in other projects such as the SMETER programme, however, RetroMeter includes the post-retrofit behavioural impact on energy use in addition to the building fabric impact. This addition reduces the tendency to overestimate savings, as well as linking more directly to energy bill reductions that are expected by consumers and financers.  Understanding the full range of impacts will also allow electric heating installers to specify the most efficient equipment and calculate the associated energy demand more accurately.

RetroMeter will realise and stack both new and existing revenue streams, by bringing energy efficiency approaches together with flexibility. This will support meeting demand reduction targets in the most cost-effective manner possible. The RetroMeter methodology could unlock significant amounts of private financing for retrofit via energy performance contracting/ metered energy services agreements. 

By making the methodology open source it can be used, interrogated and validated by all market actors providing the potential for universal adoption.

Our collaboration brings together businesses who have the joint capability to develop the new methodology, assess the benefits through techno-economic modelling, and test RetroMeter in live trials.

RetroMeter is funded by energy network users and consumers through the Strategic Innovation Fund, a programme from the UK’s independent energy regulator Ofgem managed in partnership with Innovate UK. 

To find out more visit the Electricity North West website where project learning will be posted.