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People Feel as Emotionally Connected to their Home as to their Pet or Best Friend

  • British Gas and Open University scientists show smart homes really are ‘where the heart is’
  •  Open University neuroscientist says studies show people with connected home technology feel closer to their home than those without 
  •  Science proves homesickness is real, and our emotional response can be measured
The British relationship with the building we call ‘home’ is a close one – and now science has proven that our emotional connection to our homes is as strong as with our pets and best friends.
 
Conducted by neuroscientist Dr Duncan Banks from the Open University and smart home leader British Gas, the study showed that our brain fires up with the same happiness when we see or think about our home as it does when we call to mind the family pet. And the smarter our homes get, the stronger our emotional connection to them becomes.
 
 Dr Banks measured brain activity among participants using an EEG cap, which showed the emotional responses when people were presented with stimuli relating to four different topics: Happy Home, Homesick, Friends & Pets and Home technology.
 
The findings demonstrate that participants experienced the same strong positive emotions when thinking about their home as they do when thinking about their beloved pets and close friends, validating scientifically the strong attachment and happiness we feel towards our homes. 
 
Furthermore, participants with smart home technology exhibited higher levels of brain activity and positive emotions when thinking about their homes than those without any form of smart home system. The finding indicates that despite being a relatively recent innovation, smart home technology is bringing people ever closer to their homes. Those with smart home technology are also able to visualise their homes more vividly than those without.
 
Dr Duncan Banks, neuroscientist at the Open University and Health Sciences Consultant for the BBC explains: “In British culture our home is our haven. It has a uniquely powerful place in our hearts and lives. Yet until now, nobody has tested whether a truly emotional connection exists and can be measured scientifically. 
 
“Our findings clearly show that our relationships with our homes are surprisingly stronger than you’d imagine. Smart home technology seems to be enabling people to visualise their homes more vividly, thus helping them to develop a stronger connection with them. As homes are currently undergoing one of the biggest technological transformations in recent history, you could say that smart homes are fast becoming part of the family.”
 
British Gas engineer Sheena Anker added: “Our home isn’t just four walls and a roof. It’s safety, warmth and it welcomes us. It’s comfort and convenience. It’s where our lives happen. Being connected to your home is about much more than just being able to check the temperature or turn on a security light. It’s about keeping you closer to the things and people you love. As British homes get smarter, learn about and respond to us in new ways thanks to smart meters and voice control technology, people are going to become more attached to them than ever before.”
 
So what does this mean for the future of British homes? The smart and connected home revolution is well underway, with British homes currently undergoing the biggest transformation since they were connected to mains electricity and gas a hundred years ago. And while the Government has called for every home to have a smart meter fitted by 2020, the global smart home market is forecast to be worth $121bn by 2022, with more than four million UK homes now having some form of smart home technology system* – that’s an increase of 30% year on year.
 
British Gas is at the forefront of this movement, having installed more than 3.5 million smart meters in people’s homes and with 500,000 Hive hub customers in the UK. For more information on smarter, more connected homes visit britishgas.co.uk/smart-home 
 

Notes to editors

About the Study

The study was conducted by British Gas and Dr Duncan Banks, a neuroscientist at the Open University, 2-14 April 2017. Nineteen participants (11 females and 8 males) aged between 24 to 62 years were recruited into the study and each contributed to one session of approximately one hour’s duration. Of the total participants six had Home technology and 13 did not.

A 19 channel EEG was recorded using a Mitsar 202 amplifier, an ECI electric cab and WinEEG software at a sample rate of 500 Hz, in a linked ears referential montage. The low cut filter was set to 0.53 Hz and the high at 50 Hz, the notch filter was 45 to 55 Hz and all impedances were kept below 5 kilohms.

Participants were stimulated to think about a given topic for three and a half minutes, every 10 seconds a word or phrase on the topic would be played over loud speakers. The four topics were: Happy Home, Homesick, Friends & Pets, Home technology.

*The smart home market is expected to reach USD 121.73 Billion by 2022 according to a report by marketsandmarkets.com (May 2016).The number of UK households with some form of smart home or IoT technology increased by 30% to four million in 2015, according to research by Strategy Analytics.

For more information contact:

Jennifer Plews
Senior PR Manager
British Gas
01784 84 3000
jennifer.plews@britishgas.co.uk

British Gas is Britain’s leading energy and services company, serving more than 10 million homes and over 400,000 businesses across the country. More than 8,000 highly-trained engineers guarantee the highest quality of service for our residential and business customers. We also provide a range of innovative offers and services including connected home Hive™ products, smart meters, and the online tradesman service, Local Heroes.


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