The Smart Energy Research Lab releases it’s third ‘observatory’ dataset

20 Oct 2021

Author: James O’Toole, UCL Energy Institute

The Smart Energy Research Lab (SERL) has released the third edition of its ‘observatory’ dataset, giving accredited researchers access to gas and electricity smart meter data for over 13,000 households.

Infrastructure building

The EPSRC funded consortium has been building the technical and data governance infrastructure to allow UK researchers to access domestic energy consumption data since 2017. Now the full cohort of 13,000 residences, recruited across three waves from 2019 to 2021 have been added to the dataset and is accessible to researchers.

What data is available

As well as providing access to daily and half-hourly domestic gas and electricity consumption data for the participating homes, the dataset also includes:

  • EPC data (if available)
  • building/demographic information on the households taken from a contextual survey that participants were asked to complete when agreeing to take part in the project.

These daily and half-hourly meter readings represent a leap forward in the granularity of domestic energy consumption data available to researchers. Data from traditional meters was often available to researchers only as an aggregated annual total and often over a year after the energy was used.

Data protection

SERL data is subject to the strictest data governance in line with the Smart Energy Code (SEC) and the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). All participating households give informed consent when joining the project and can withdraw at any time.


The third edition release is a significant milestone in the work of the SERL project as the data from the full cohort of over 13,000 homes is now available to accredited researchers to use in their research (if their proposed work is approved by the SERL Data Governance Board). A lot of work has gone into building the SERL infrastructure and now the project team are looking forward to seeing an influx of researchers from across a range of energy related disciplines using SERL in their work.

SERL research

In addition to providing access to data, SERL also has its own research programme – carried out by the project partners that make up the consortium. Early findings are beginning to come through now that the data is flowing into SERL and can be used for research.

Some early papers available in pre-print form include:

Explaining daily total energy demand in British housing using linked smart meter and socio-technical data in a bottom-up statistical model – pre-print of first research paper using SERL observatory data, submitted to Energy and Buildings for peer review.

The SERL Observatory Dataset: Longitudinal Smart Meter Electricity and Gas Data, Survey, EPC and Climate Data for Over 13,000 GB Households – pre-print of paper giving detailed description of the SERL data, submitted to Energies to be peer reviewed.

Increasing response rates and reducing bias: Learnings from the Smart Energy Research Lab pilot study – preprint of paper describing findings of the SERL pilot participant recruitment study, to be published in Energy Research and Social Science.

These are the first in what is expected to be a long list of research publications in the next few years featuring the use of SERL data.

About the author:

James O’Toole is the Smart Energy Research Lab (SERL) Consortium Manager. He is based at UCL Energy Institute and supports the research team in the running of the SERL consortium project.