The events of the global pandemic throughout 2020 presented us with myriad scenarios that placed a heavy load on energy sources throughout the country. With lockdowns, work-from-home notices and self-isolation requirements, energy demand increased as we were required to continue our day-to-day activities within the same four walls 24/7.


For building managers of multi-occupancy residences, this meant an unforecasted increase in energy consumption, cost and a need to avoid entering rooms to make any adjustments, in order to contain the virus and reduce the risk of spreading the infection.

A self-isolating student’s energy consumption may increase for a variety of reasons, all of which need to be accounted for by an energy management system to maximise energy efficiency. A student who is experiencing a fever and fluctuating temperatures may need their heating on blast one minute, and then open a window the next. Without a system in place such as Irus, the energy management team are facing the prospect of paying to heat the street. Similarly, self-isolating students may feel that the limits on the thermostat don’t quite cut it when they’re experiencing the chill of a fever – out comes the space heater, a dangerous and often forbidden appliance to have in a student room. Due to the restrictions of self-isolation, the energy team can’t approach the room and offer advice or remove the offending heater without exposing themselves to the infection and potentially spreading it further.

So what’s the solution? Prefect Controls’ Irus energy management system. 

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, and the additional add on of a CO2 detector can help teams estimate the number of students who are isolating in a building and monitor any spread.

Irus also adds the benefit of remote system management, removing the need to visit a student’s room to make changes to their settings. In fact, the remote reset button allows managers to reset all of the settings of every room in a block at once – perfect for the end of a term when students have returned home and the risk of entering a room that’s housed the infection is still present.

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.