Should I Consider Getting a Smart Thermostat?
What is a Smart Thermostat?
A smart thermostat (not to be confused with a smart meter) is a smart technology that allows you to control the temperature in your home through a smartphone, tablet or desktop computer for more control over the central heating in your home. They can be a more efficient alternative to a typical room thermostat, and could help you cut your home-heating energy usage over time.
A typical thermostat lets you alter the temperature in your home by turning a dial or using a control panel. A smart thermostat gives you are more user-friendly way to control the heat using three basic components:
- A component that plugs directly into your boiler. This can talk wirelessly to the other components.
- A component that is an in-home device. This is the thermostat and main control.
- An app that is downloaded to your device, which can be remotely used to control the second component and adjust the heating from wherever they may be.
These three components make up the basic parts of most smart thermostats. But some smart thermostats offer more – such as ‘learning’ your schedule by detecting when your smartphone is in the house, or taking it even further and detecting when you are on your usual route home, and preparing your home by making it the required temperature.
What are the Benefits of a Smart Thermostat?
There are a range of different benefits to a smart thermostat. For example:
- They are great for people with busy schedules. They make it easier to control heat in your home quickly and easily, from wherever you are.
- They allow you to turn off heat remotely if you forgot to do so, and so save energy.
- You can adjust the heating to prevent wasted heat if you are running late or your schedule changes.
- They allow you to turn down the heat from wherever you are in your home, so you do not have to get up or fiddle with controls. This can also help reduce energy consumption and save money (and the planet).
- Since they give you reports on your usage, you can use that information to learn more about how you use energy, and take steps to adjust your behaviour and reduce your energy use.
Types of Smart Thermostat:
There are a range of different smart thermostats on the market. Some of the main models are:
- British Gas’ Hive
- E.ON Touch
- Google Nest Learning Thermostat
- Honeywell evohome
- Heatmiser’s NeoKit 2
- EDF Energy’s HeatSmart
- Drayton miGenie
Tado° first began operating in Germany and other European countries, then launched in the UK in October 2013. These seek to apart to the lifestyles of users and create smart homes with as little input from them as possible. The device tracks inhabitants of a home using their smart phones and seeks to learn from their behaviour. It tries to match the temperature in the home to your preferences, in the most energy efficient way possible. For example, it will turn the heating off when everyone goes out, and begin heating the place back up when, for example, someone is coming home from work. The system also factors in weather conditions and outside temperatures. According to the manufacturers, it can save users up to 31% on their energy bills.
The product itself costs £199, or you can rent it for £4.99 a month. If you rent, and do not save at least £100 in the first year, you will have one year’s rental fees refunded.
British Gas’ Hive
The Hive is built around a dashboard that allows users to take a more hands-on approach and manage their home’s temperature using a smart device. This is an smart thermostat system for those who do not yet trust technology enough to allow it to make the decisions for them, and those who are not comfortable with home automation devices collecting their personal data.
You can design heating schedules and alter your home’s temperature with the Hive whenever you wish. The device can also automatically turn the heating on if your pipes are going to freeze due to cold temperatures. This could be particularly handy for homes that are unoccupied, or if you are going away over the winter months.
Again, you can buy the technology for £199. It is available on the Hive website.
E.ON launched their smart thermostat in 2015. With their Touch system, customers can adjust both their heating and their hot water via the smartphone app. This can give householders more and better control over their usage and energy costs. In addition to offering a simpler and more convenient way to manage energy costs, and to get away-from-home control, the Touch system also offers monthly reports and personalised energy usage information.
Google Nest Learning Thermostat
Nest was purchased by Google for about £2 billion back at the beginning of 2014. Nest’s learning thermostat was designed by the man behind the iPod. It is designed to adapt your home’s temperature to your behaviour. By collecting information from your smart devices, the Nest makes a personalised heating schedule linked to your habits. Soon, the device will have ‘learned’ so much about your habits that you will rarely if ever have to alter the temperature manually at all. The Nest is said to reduce your energy usage and energy bill up to 20%.
The evohome allows you to divide your home into various smart zones, in which you can control the heating separately. This means you can have your bedroom cooler, and a living space warmer, and can, for example, heat a guest bedroom if you have some guests arriving, so that they will be comfortable when they arrive. According to Honeywell, this system can help homes to save up to 40% on their annual heating costs. The evohome costs from £249 for the base unit, and a further £70 for each device needed to create a smart zone. Like other smart thermostats, it allows you to remotely control your heating and provides you with a better understanding of your energy usage.
Heatmiser’s NeoKit 2
This is another system designed to provide householders with a simple way to upgrade from their existing thermostats and hot water programmers. The standard Neokit 2 package, launched in 2014, as everything you need to upgrade your heating and hot water controls, as well as the neoApp which controls the system. Like other such apps, it provides a way to alter your heating remotely.This smart thermostat costs from £265.
EDF Energy’s HeatSmart
EDF’s version of a smart thermostat is called the HeatSmart. They partnered with Netatmo to bring out this smart heating device in 2015. Like other options from the big six suppliers, the HeatSmart is an option that is available to anyone – not only EDF customers. It can be obtained for £199 including installation. Like other options, it also has a remote control capability, and allows you to create a heating schedule, so you will never have to pay to heat an empty home. It also features ‘Auto Adapt’ to account for weather conditions, and a ‘frost guard’ function so your heating system will be protected from freezing during very cold spells.
Like other smart thermostat systems, Drayton miGenia has the ‘gateway’ device to connect the system to your boiler, the thermostat and controller device, and the miGenie app that works with both iphone and Android devices. Again, you can use this app to control your home’s heating from anywhere.
Whether or not you choose to get a smart thermostat may depend on how you feel about the collection of data about you. Some are perfectly comfortable with the idea that the system ‘knows’ where they are, what they do and how they behave at all times. Others are somewhat uncomfortable with this, and concerned about lack of privacy.
Whether or not you ultimately decide to get a smart thermostat for your home, it is clear that in some circumstances, they can be very handy and could help you save energy, and therefore save money on your energy bills. But the very best way to save money on your bills is to make sure that you are on the very best deal for you. So compare with Money Pug and check out our guides to find out if there are other ways that you could save.
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