There have been murmurings about smarter ways to heat our homes for some time now, but finally we have some products available that are really worth consideration. Smart thermostats promise to make our homes more comfortable, more controllable and ultimately, to save us money. Some can even learn as they go, eventually eliminating the need for us to interact with it at all.
With the average UK household now spending £1,264 a year on heating, anything that really can reduce our consumption is going to be well received into the market. Smart thermostats come with a promise of a 20 – 30 per cent saving, but do they really deliver? Here’s the lowdown on smart thermostats, and what you can expect if you decide to invest in this tech
What are smart thermostats?
Your standard thermostat allows you to adjust the temperature in your home. Without a thermostat, our heating would just blast away until we manually switched it off. In some cases, this may be a wheel on a wall and in others it could be built into your programmable control panel. Wherever your thermostat is positioned and whatever it looks like, it’s a great tool for maintaining comfort in the home, and for reducing overconsumption of gas by our heating systems.
What makes this new breed of thermostat so ‘smart’ is that they can be controlled from pretty much anywhere using your smartphone or tablet. This lets you log in and switch off the heating if you know you’re going to be later home than you thought, or turn on the heating if you’ve suddenly got the afternoon off.
One of the smartest things about smart thermostats is that many of the latest models can also learn from our behaviour. Over time, they’ll start to get to know our routines, and will be able to make their own adjustments to the heating regimen based on temperature, time and humidity too.
They also give you lots of information about your heating system, including your current consumption, estimated bills and how these trends have played out over time. This can all be very helpful information, particularly if you’re on an energy saving drive.
Which smart thermostats are there?
There are a number of manufacturers of smart thermostats around at the moment, each of which offer something a bit different:
- Nest: Probably the one you’ll have heard the most about, the Nest is probably the simplest to use and the most visually appealing. It detects when you are home using motion sensitivity and learns your schedule, and also has the opportunity to expand and add fire detection and other technology.
- Hive: From British Gas, the Hive is little more than a thermostat that can be controlled from your phone or web browser. On the plus side, it is very easy to get to grips with, and for householders with predictable schedules the savings could be great. Plus it’s one of the cheaper models.
- Tado: Like Nest, Tado takes on board weather monitoring and smart learning to help you manage your heating more effectively. It tracks motion within the house, but takes this a step further by tracking Tado users outside of the home via their smartphone. This means it recognises when you’re on your way back, and heats the house to your ideal temperature before you even open the door.
- Honeywell Evohome: Evohome is the only smart thermostat to allow home ‘zoning’. It means you install thermostatic radiator valves (TRV’s) on radiators in, say, bedrooms, living rooms and other ‘zones’, and then control the heating of that specific area. It’s the most expensive of the smart thermostats mentioned here, but is certainly the most sophisticated too.
As the nation warms up to the benefits of smart thermostats, there will undoubtedly be more competing devices hitting the shelves soon. Initial reports say that these devices really do deliver on their 20 – 30 per cent saving claims, so if you’re keen to save some cash this winter, it could be worth looking into.
Talk to New Age Plumbing and Heating for more advice on smart thermostats, or for help installing one if you’ve decided to take the plunge.