25 years of studying degrees C to improve temperature control | Prefect Controls

25 years of studying degrees C to improve temperature control | Prefect Controls

We catch up with the team at Prefect Controls to find out more about why this year will mark 25 years of studying degrees C.

While Harry Potter left platform 93/4 from King’s Cross to begin a new chapter at Hogwarts, Freshers arriving for their first year at university would also be settling in by enjoying pint of lager for less than £2, listening on their Discman to Elton John’s Candle in the Wind, a tribute to Princess Diana who had died in August of that year – 1997. This was an age before social media, when it would cost you 10p to send a text. But, Steve Jobs re-joined Apple, and was formulating plans for iMac, iPod, iPad, iPhone et al, and that would change our relationship with technology forever.

The UK elected New Labour to govern the country in May, with Tony Blair promising to deliver his party’s top three priorities – Education, Education, Education. Students predominantly lived in halls of residence or houses for multiple occupation (HMOs), many with the atmosphere of a hostel and invariably too cold or too hot. New Labour promised that ‘things can only get better’.

Improving student accommodation

As part of a major programme to improve student accommodation in York, the University signed a deal with a telecoms provider to fit phones in all student rooms, bringing with it the potential for dial-up data services. How times have changed in just 25 years!

Founded that same year, Prefect Controls’ target market centred around commercial providers of rooms, student accommodation, hotels etc, where the excessive use of heating energy by guests, who were not subject to the direct cost, was a problem. The market requirement was clear – a range of controls that would provide access to adjustment by the guest, while behind the scenes the business owner had overall control of the temperature and time set points.

This strategy of identifying the need of both guest and business owner has enabled Prefect’s team of design engineers to develop a full range of space heating controls – from standalone (local control) to a fully centralised system. From what is now considered a very basic timer control, installed in 400 rooms at the University of East London, Prefect has more than 30,000 rooms connected through Irus, its central control system, and more rooms controlled locally using the ecostat2 range.


Glen Golding, MD at Prefect, says: “We consider ourselves to be a problem solving company and utilise the latest technologies to help customers resolve the issues they have. “This has developed from straightforward temperature control to monitoring for unusual levels of humidity, decibels, light and CO2, any of which can make a room an uncomfortable living/studying environment”.

Outside the student bedrooms, Prefect also controls hot water, detects leaks, senses when fire doors are opened and ensures hobs cannot be left on when the person using the cooker is distracted and leaves the kitchen.

Significant demand

With universities working overtime to meet net zero targets by 2030, Prefect is in greater demand than ever, as Glen concludes: “What we’re doing today is a far-cry from where we started. 25 years has seen a lot of changes in how student accommodation is considered by providers, and we’ve been fortunate to have ridden the two waves that are, the proliferation of excellent quality rooms, and the necessity to control and conserve the use of energy”.

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