SDG 7 – Clean and affordable energy
During the coldest months of winter, heat is one of the basic needs for people to live. The access to proper heating along with good insulation, not only increases life expectancy but also creates higher quality of life.
In Barcelona, temperature can drop down to 5°C during winter. Because most of the houses and apartments in this region are badly insulated, people rely on heaters powered by electricity or gas. However, around 10% of Barcelona citizens have energy poverty and it is estimated 170,000 people do not have access to proper heating.
To dig deep about the problem, we interviewed multiple experts and more than 30 people who are identified as high risk of energy poverty. Afterwards we’ve concluded that the most vulnerable persons are: elderly people, either unemployed or pensioners, that tend to live by themselves, have low income and reside in very old houses with bad insulation.
It is important to mention that the vast majority of houses in Spain have not installed a proper heating system, since the country is not in a cold region and this may not seem a problem. The reality is that the lack of this system exposes low income inhabitants to hard or even dangerous situations, having little margin to react. These people often find themselves in having difficulties to pay their monthly energy bills. The situation in winter gets worse for them, because heaters consume a massive amount of energy, which can significantly increase electricity bills. These people are vulnerable, and we wanted to help them.
In order to do that, we raise the question: “How might we help elderly and low-income people from Barcelona, who can’t access proper heating, so they can improve their quality of life?
Our solution is Bwarm. An inexpensive smart heating system that is modular and user-oriented. Bwarm implements the concept of “Heating people, not places” by focalizing all the heat to the users. Normal heaters, based in convection heat transmission, waste a lot of energy because they are made to heat all the air around. That is, a whole house or an entire room is warmed up when, in most cases, it is unnecessary. In order to solve that, our solution carefully manages the energy waste while delivers heat using novel heat sources.
Bwarm is a modular heating system. It works by detecting both your location and temperature to switch on/off different heat sources towards you. To do so, B-warm has thermal cameras and a central smart algorithm (Arduino-based microcontroller), that via Bluetooth merges all the system with the heat sources.
The modular system is composed of:
- The brain: that has a thermal camera and the algorithm, to regulate the sources.
- IR Panels: that are surfaces that radiate heat
- Directional Heat Sources: that rotate to point the heat towards you.
If needed, the product elements can interact with each other in a modular way. Therefore, Bwarm can improve efficiency by heating only the person’s body, consuming energy in a different way.
Project documentation https://cernbox.cern.ch/index.php/s/PzX9O72kYsFgn5G