With the events of 2020 resulting in a variety of lockdowns and tier systems that required the general public to remain indoors, energy consumption has rapidly increased for households, operating businesses and accommodation buildings across the country.


For building owners and operators, this is a real conundrum. Budgets and expenditure are estimated based on average consumption data taken from previous years – what do you do when that average is void as residents are encouraged to do all of their living and working indoors for extended periods of time?

For buildings without a Prefect Controls Energy Management System in place, the answer is quite simple – you spend more money. With no way to safely and fairly reduce energy consumption, the only solution is to encourage residents to be more mindful of their own consumption and hope for the best. However, in the middle of a global pandemic where social lives and work environments are forced to move into a virtual setting, personal energy use is likely quite low on the agenda – particularly when they’re not the one footing the bill.

2021 seems to be offering much of the same – another national lockdown, imposed by each of the devolved governments. Meet the new year – same as the old year! It would be easy to begin to relax and believe that the end is in sight and old data about usage, cost and consumption will ring true once again, but resting on your laurels can prove to be a costly exercise. With no definitive end in sight, now is the time to be considering getting ahead of future lockdowns and stay-at-home rulings in order to reduce the amount of energy wasted (inadvertently) by residents. Prefect Controls’ range of energy management products can do exactly that – and more!

During the first lockdown, the University of West England (UWE) Bristol quickly identified the need for a more efficient system to manage energy use and consumption by their residents and, following a short tender process, enlisted our team to install the Prefect Irus system of products throughout the Frenchay Campus (home to 2000 students). With only 6 weeks before students returned, our hard-working teams managed to install Prefect Irus throughout 75% of the facility, and will return to complete the remaining rooms this year. Early estimates from the UWE put annual savings at 20-30% – over £75,000 per year.

Irus is a centrally controlled system, accessed via an internet portal. It enables Energy Managers to set temperatures/times for the 3-stage student profile. Setback mode is the default setting (typically 18°C), but if the student requires more heat, they simply tap the ‘up’ button triggering Boost mode (commonly 23°C). Boost runs for a pre-set time (45 minutes) before reverting to Setback. If the student leaves the room during Boost, the PIR detects their absence and reverts to Setback, likewise if windows are opened heat input is reduced by 50%. If rooms are vacant for longer periods (typically 12 hours), Frost mode is activated, maintaining at least 5°C. Irus also monitors humidity, light and decibel levels.

For UWE, Irus adds the benefit of a building-wide reset button. This ensures that at the beginning of the year, each room starts at the same level of consumption, avoiding a mess of settings across each of the rooms that are difficult to manage and monitor. The combination of settings and remote management reduces unnecessary energy consumption, helping the University in it’s goal to be carbon neutral with net-zero emissions of greenhouse gases by 2030.

Irus saves money, reduces energy consumption and provides live data about usage throughout the blocks, along with a host of other features. It’s not about whether or not your building can afford it – it’s if it can afford not to have it.