• Tom Halpin

Tom Halpin, Head of Communications, introduces the Smart Home Hackathon, designed to explore ways to enhance the way we use energy in our homes.

It might surprise you to know that the residential sector accounts for a quarter of Ireland's energy use and produces a quarter of our energy related CO2 emissions. Quite frankly that is unsustainable. There really has to be a better ways for us to heat and light our homes and use appliances, that could cost us less personally and help us all play our part in meeting our climate change obligations. The long term target has to be zero-energy homes and disruptive technology will be a key driver.

Over the past few years hundreds of thousands of homeowners have upgraded their home heating and insulation - making their homes more comfortable and cheaper to run. Our analysis at SEAI suggests that the pace of upgrade activity has to accelerate dramatically. (Ireland's Energy Target's - Progress, Ambition & Impacts)

However I believe there is a huge role also for smart technology and the internet of things to unlock the opportunities for visualising energy use in the home, informing homeowner behaviour and helping us use more renewable energy.

That was in the back of my mind when I met with the team at DCU Alpha Innovation Campus towards the end of last year when they told me about their hugely successful hardware-software hackathons. Hackathons are a great manifestation of innovation and a focus of creative energy over a short period. The outcome can be anything from a prototype ready to be commercialised to some more futuristic concept. Exciting stuff really for a self-professed tech geek like myself.

This seemed like the perfect way to explore the limitless possibilities at the crossover between technology, energy and our homes

Fast forward ten months and SEAI has just announced details of a three day Smart Home Hackathon, hosted in conjunction with DCU Alpha Innovation Campus on 13th - 15th May, 2016. (THIS HAS NOW BEEN POSTPONED UNTIL AUTUMN 2016) The challenges we have devised for participants have one goal in mind; how we can radically enhance the way we use energy in the home. Participants will focus on one of the following areas: user experience; homeowner feedback and behaviour; energy supply and home automation.

The SEAI Smart Home Hackathon is open to engineers, designers, innovators and entrepreneurs.

If you think you have what it takes to invent just part of the future of smart home energy then find out more and register via the website www.seai-hackathon.com

Follow our progress on #energyhack

About the author

Tom Halpin is Head of Communications and a member of the senior management team at the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland, with responsibility for leading strategic communications, corporate positioning and programme marketing. A graduate of UCD with a degree in Electronic Engineering, and a Diploma in Marketing, Tom has 20 years of experience in the energy sector having joined the then Irish Energy Centre in 1995. Previously Tom worked in engineering and marketing with a number of multinational companies.

Email tom.halpin@seai.ie