Camden Council

Reducing heating bills by 30 percent with Hildebrand and IBM Informix TimeSeries software

Published on 06-Feb-2013

"We estimate that this project, over its lifetime, will save up to 8,000 tonnes [8,818 tons] of CO2 for 2,500 homes." - Julian Fulbrook, Council Cabinet Member for Housing, Camden Council

Camden Council

Energy & Utilities, Government

Deployment country:
United Kingdom

Energy Efficiency

IBM Business Partner:


Camden Council is one of 32 borough councils in London. Camden is responsible for police services, schools and housing with approximately 22,000 housing units.

Business need:
Residents of block housing developments pay a fixed fee for heat regardless of their consumption, reducing any incentive to conserve energy by closing windows on cold days.

A heat metering system, based on IBM® Informix® TimeSeries, is providing feedback on heat usage and other information to encourage residents to adopt more energy-efficient practices.

● Achieved savings of up to 30 percent per year for some households in pilot program ● Expected reduction of 8,000 tonnes (8,818 tons) of CO2 for 2,500 homes over the lifetime of the project ● Projected USD60 billion savings for housing authorities worldwide

Case Study

In housing developments that use district heating, residents often pay a fixed monthly heating fee. Whether residents turn down the heat when departing from the flat, or they leave the heat on and the windows open, they pay the same fee. The resident who wastes heat never faces the consequences, and the responsible user is not rewarded.

Local governments worldwide are seeking a solution to this challenge, as more than USD300 billion is spent globally on district heating for block housing developments as well as on college campuses and in commercial and public buildings.1

In Camden Council, one of 32 borough councils in London, a first-of-its-kind heat metering program is providing a cost-effective approach that rewards residents for energy efficiency.

Measuring heat consumption in block housing

In block and affordable housing developments, typically a single boiler plant is used to heat hundreds of flats. Understanding how much energy each household consumes requires the ability to monitor, measure and report on the flow of hot water into and out of each flat.

To accomplish this, Camden Council turned to Hildebrand Technology, a London-based technology incubator and energy consulting firm. Individual metering will be introduced to allow Camden Council (and the residents) to measure usage as if each flat had its own water heater. Residents will have accountability on their energy usage so they adopt energy-saving practices.

Residents who take heat-conserving steps, such as turning the heat down when they leave the flat, pay less. Hildebrand has conservatively estimated a savings of approximately 20 percent per household per year. However, through the pilot program, Camden Council has seen even greater savings.

“This project has shown that some residents can make savings of up to 30 percent on their bills, with an average household saving of £520 over the first two years,” says Councillor Julian Fulbrook, Camden Council cabinet member for housing. “Burning less fuel reduces our carbon footprint. We estimate that this project, over its lifetime, will save up to 8,000 tonnes [8,818 tons] of CO2 for 2,500 homes. This number is dependent on heating efficiencies, behavior, building fabric and outside temperature, all of which vary from site to site. Metering has allowed us to understand these variables.”

The potential worldwide impact of this type of approach is enormous. “Communities around the world stand to save up to USD60 billion as heat consumption decreases by 20 percent,” adds Joshua Cooper, CEO, Hildebrand.

Handling thousands of data points per second

Hildebrand provided the software, integration and hosting services to leverage the stored meter data. “We are using Software as a Service to provide the meter management, the meter data repository and analysis platform, and the accounting and communication network operations,” says Cooper.

With meter readings captured every six seconds from more than 1,500 meters, Hildebrand needed more than a traditional relational database management system.

“Informix TimeSeries performance is incredibly fast,” says Cooper. “When we began developing our solutions, we benchmarked Informix TimeSeries against other databases for capturing meter data. Informix TimeSeries was the only one able to handle 50,000 data points per second, scalable to three million homes and beyond. With standard relational database technologies, it’s a struggle to get real-time performance for this type of application. By using Informix TimeSeries in our system, we can give organizations the ability to analyze data on a continuous basis so they can immediately see the impact of weather changes or changing fuel prices.”

For example, near real-time access to data will enable Camden Council to offer residents unprecedented insight into their energy usage. “Residents will be able to see their energy use, compare it to benchmarks, such as community averages, and understand their patterns of usage,” says Fulbrook. “This may have potential for further developments for remote control and assistance for vulnerable people through automated monitoring. It will also enhance our understanding of what motivates us to reduce consumption, and thus savings could be
even greater.”

In a project focused on energy efficiency, it’s not surprising that Hildebrand was also concerned with the efficiency of its technology platform.

“Smart meter solutions such as this offer great advantages, but also create a tremendous challenge in managing massive amounts of interval [time-series] data,” says Cooper. “Organizations using standard relational databases are challenged with the amount of disk storage and processing power needed to support this work. We found that IBM Informix TimeSeries software is far more efficient than other databases in capturing and storing the data so we need far less processing power and storage, which in turn means requiring less floor space, cooling and energy. We’ve also found it to be nearly maintenance-free, which also helps reduce the total cost of ownership.”

For more information

To learn more about IBM Informix TimeSeries software, please contact your IBM representative or IBM Business Partner, or visit the following website:

For more information on Hildebrand Technology, visit:

For more information on Camden Council, visit:

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Products and services used

IBM products and services that were used in this case study.

Informix TimeSeries DataBlade

Legal Information

© Copyright IBM Corporation 2013 IBM Corporation Software Group Route 100 Somers, NY 10589 Produced in the United States of America February 2013 IBM, the IBM logo,, and Informix are trademarks of International Business Machines Corp., registered in many jurisdictions worldwide. Other product and service names might be trademarks of IBM or other companies. A current list of IBM trademarks is available on the web at “Copyright and trademark information” at This document is current as of the initial date of publication and may be changed by IBM at any time. Not all offerings are available in every country in which IBM operates. The performance data discussed herein is presented as derived under specific operating conditions. Actual results may vary. It is the user’s responsibility to evaluate and verify the operation of any other products or programs with IBM products and programs. THE INFORMATION IN THIS DOCUMENT IS PROVIDED “AS IS” WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, INCLUDING WITHOUT ANY WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY, FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE AND ANY WARRANTY OR CONDITION OF NON-INFRINGEMENT. IBM products are warranted according to the terms and conditions of the agreements under which they are provided. Hildebrand’s offering is not an IBM product or offering. Hildebrand’s offering is sold or licensed, as the case may be, to users under Hildebrand’s terms and conditions, which are provided with the product or offering. Availability, and any and all warranties, services and support for Hildebrand’s offering is the direct responsibility of, and is provided directly to users by Hildebrand. 1“2009 Energy Balance for World.” International Energy Agency,