Only a few years ago, the sight of someone using their phone to switch their heating on would have seemed like space-age wizardry, but now, Smart thermostats are becoming a common feature in our homes, but what exactly do they do?
All a thermostat needs to be able to do to be classed as ‘smart’ is connect your heating system to the internet…that’s all. It lets you change the temperature of your heating or switch it on and off using a smartphone, tablet, or computer. That may not seem like a good enough reason to pay a few hundred pounds for a piece of kit that your boiler doesn’t actually need in order to work well, especially if you spend a lot of your time in the house. So what are the benefits of these Smart thermostats?
If you are a creature of habit and leave/come home at regimented times each day, the smart thermostat might not give you any more benefits than a regular thermostat, but if your routine varies daily, it can be a great choice. Also, let’s not underestimate the advantages of being able to turn your heating on and off remotely. Imagine lying in bed on a winter’s morning and being able to warm your home up before you risk slipping out from under your duvet!
Even for someone who stays home a lot, the accurate temperature sensors of a smart thermostat can be very useful, especially those which can be combined with smart radiator thermostats and set up for zonal heating. Smart thermostats can be set to can switch your heating on only when your house is cooler than your minimum setting, and then switch it back off when it’s warmed up. Unexpected frost overnight and no heating set to come on? No problem, the heating will boost just when you need it and you will never use more energy than you need to.
The sheer range of smart thermostats available on the market means the other features you can make use of will vary by model, but some let you manage your hot water, or use GPS to track when you get home or leave, and many include holiday modes to keep everything ticking over when you are away.
The variance in features means it’s difficult to estimate how much you’ll save installing a smart thermostat. Smart thermostats cost from about £150 upwards, with some of the best-sellers coming in at around £280. You also need to factor in the cost of the installation which is estimated to be £50-£100. British Gas claims that its Hive smart thermostat could save you up to £130 a year on your energy bills, but it also showed that your savings would be much smaller if you previously only had the heating on for part of the day.
There’s no doubt that smart thermostats have some great features, but you will need to do your own maths to see if it’s worth installing a smart thermometer in your home. Before you buy a Smart Thermostat, it’s also worth speaking to a heating engineer to see which ones will work with your boiler.