Corrour Concepts photo

Corrour Concepts LLP designed the Ecotrip, a user friendly and inexpensive energy saving device that can supplement any existing domestic central heating control. 

Business Challenge

When designing the product, the company was very conscious of the increasing complexity of heating systems and wanted to ensure that the controls were convenient and easy to use. The Ecotrip requires a single action to set and is ‘set and forget’. It can be retrofitted to existing installations without recabling, requires no batteries and can be used by the sight impaired and disabled. The company considered it essential to understand market perceptions of their product from a useage and design viewpoint.

Solution

Corrour Concepts was referred by Scottish and Southern Energy to Interface. Interface identified various business schools with the expertise to support the company in determining market potential. The research was to establish the extent to which users could be expected to utilise an Ecotrip.

Corrour Concepts opted to work with the University of Abertay Dundee Business School who conducted research through focus groups to determine the following:
 
  • The extent to which households don’t pause/turn off their central heating whilst not at home
     
  • Assessment of the potential use that households could make of Ecotrip
     
  • Assessment of the extent to which households would, in practice, exploit the opportunities to pause the central heating with Ecotrip
This project was funded by a Scottish Funding Council Innovation Voucher.
 
The information from this research influenced the subsequent development of the pre production prototype and also formed the basis on which future field trials would be conducted.
 
Interface subsequently supported Corrour Concepts in its quest for a suitable academic partner to collaborate in conducting a field trial. The trial was to establish how easy users were able to understand and operate the Ecotrip, record the extent that they utilised it and assess the savings made.
 
Expertise was identified within Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU) via the CIC Start Online initiative. This organisation aims to embed sustainable building design and refurbishment into regular building practice. Funding was also received from the CIC Start feasibility grant scheme.
 
The company was keen to conduct the initial field trials focusing on particular demographics, particularly those with lifestyles that meant they were at home for long periods, but went out at varied times. This group included parents with very young children, the retired, the unemployed and the disabled.
 
The West of Scotland Housing Association was identified by the project team as having a potential site which would meet the requirements. GCU then worked in partnership with the two organisations to:
  • Provide advice on selecting the participants to ensure an appropriate sample
     
  • Advise on how the effectiveness of the Ecotrip in reducing fuel consumption could be measured
     
  • Produce proposals for the identification of a possible control group
     
  • Develop a suitable questionnaire to be completed by the users to record their experience with the Ecotrip – convenience, ease of use, effectiveness, etc.
     
  • Analyse all results and produce a report on the outcomes
     

Business benefits

“We are extremely grateful to Interface and the universities for their continued support. The trial provided very useful information which will help us further develop the Ecotrip.”
Paul Winson, Corrour Concepts

Additional benefits

  • The potential for supporting the reduction in fuel poverty was highlighted particularly in the social housing segment of the market
     
  • Research indicated that there was a need for the Ecotrip to be sufficiently rugged to withstand 'enthusiastic' usage
     
  • Collaboration provided the company with the opportunity to publicise the Ecotrip and discuss the device with building experts in the field
     

Please note that Interface administers the Innovation Voucher Scheme on behalf of the Scottish Funding Council. All funding applications are reviewed on a case by case basis by the Scottish Funding Council, guidelines can be found here.