Jonathan Hadlow

Bulb Hotspotter

Tracking heatloss in your home

Jonathan Hadlow

Royal College of Art
Bulb Energy


Want to know where you are loosing precious pounds through leaky doors and drafts? Working with Bulb energy, I designed a pilot scheme that will allow customers to borrow thermal imaging camera they can plug into their smartphone. This project aims to improve consumer engagement and tackle low public awareness of heat as a priority area for climate action and of alternative low-carbon heating technologies.


Bulb energy asked me to prepare and create a template for massive change of how we heat our homes to embrace heat pump technology and achieve a truly zero carbon objective.


Decarbonising heat is recognised as perhaps the greatest challenge to achieving the UK net-zero target. Heating in residential, commercial and industrial settings makes up almost half of final energy consumption in the UK, more than the energy consumed for electricity and transport. Much of this energy is lost through poorly insulated buildings.

Air Source Heat Pumps


The Heat Pump works along the same lines as a refrigerator or air conditioner. It is basically an air con running backwards. Air-Source Heat Pumps (ASHPs) utilise the outside air as a heat source, and, as such, are easier and much less expensive to install than a ground-source model. An air-source heat pump consists of two units, one inside and one outside.

Research Summary


  1. Heat pumps are a new way of heating homes at a low constant temperature. This is a comfortable future, where we no longer go from being too hot to being too cold. 
  2. This technology ensure greener homes with better heat retention.
  3. Ultimitely, lower energy costs.


  1. The majority of customer do not think about the heating systems in their home. Heat pumps require changes to behaviour and time spent learning to understand this new technology. 
  2. Heat pumps are considerably more expensive than traditional boilers. Government support and grants are complex and only offer support to a tiny fraction of UK households.
  3. The installation process takes a considerable amount of time and planning. You cannot simply wait for your boiler to break down before starting the process.
  4. The spacial requirements for both internal and external units limit their use in densly populated areas and smaller buildings.

This is not yet a solution for everyone, only the few who are engaged, willing and able to embrace the change and upfront costs.


How do we build towards a future of heat pumps and engage those customers long before purchasing this technology becomes an option?

As the price of everything, including energy continues to rise, this gives customers the chance to make smaller, manageable, stepped changes toward our zero-carbon objectives.

British homes lose energy 3x faster than the German or Swedish homes often used to demonstrate ASHP's success. Therefore, retrofitting the 27 million existing homes has a much greater potential than new-builds for cutting emissions, driving commercialisation of products, and improving comfort and well-being.



Heatmapping offer customer the opportunity to engage with heatloss in their home. New, cheap heat loss cameras capture live images enabling customers to see exactly where they can make improvements and savings.

Testing mapping


Our proposal is for Bulb to pilot a scheme that will allow customers to use a thermal imaging camera they can plug into their smartphone. Bulb will add a new feature to their app that would allow customers to identify what they are looking for around their property. It is easy and fun enough that your kids can do it. Customers can also explore available third-party products that would be best suited to fixing the issue. Once the customer has done an assessment of their property and ordered any upgrades to improve their home’s heat retention, they can simply return the camera in the post. Job done!


This service was prototyped with a number of stakeholders. The use of visualisation prompted an engaged response. Coupled with the ability to know what you were looking for and what to buy made the process of fixing those leaks much easier.

Key Learning

Clients can often be looking for a quick fix or easy solution. When dealing with complex problem, deep user-research and insights is the strongest defense when challenging original problem questions and framing potential solutions.