Intelligent or remote heating controls – what’s the point?

Remote heating controls are all the rage at the minute, with Nest* now available in the UK, Tado* having been around for a little while and British Gas’s Hive* being pushed really hard on the radio and TV as well as a growing number of lesser known alternatives.
So what’s the point of an internet connected heating thermostat? How will they save me money and will I actually use it?
This is a guest post from Mr ETL and it contains affiliate links which are marked with a *. The content of this post was not affected by the links, it won’t cost you anything extra if you buy through them and if you do it will help to support the blog – thanks!
Every house it’s different and each family will want to heat their houses at different times and to different temperatures. The traditional thermostats allowed you to set schedules for your heating, normally by day or weekday and weekend and allowed you to set lots of different times and temperatures during each period. Those of us who did make good use of these were probably saving more than those who just set a morning and evening temperature and a lot more than those who just had the heating on the whole time. They normally allowed you to override the settings as well so giving you quite a lot of flexibility. So again, what’s the point?

Well the main point is every time you are not at home when the heating has been set to come on, you are wasting energy, which directly impacts your heating bills and the environment. Although you probably are able to predict when you will be at home and when you won’t during the working day, it isn’t always easy to predict which evenings you will be in or out and what you will be up to over the weekend. With a heating system that you can control on your mobile phone, you can delay it or turn it off for the evening if you decide not to come straight home from work and you can also tell it to start heating your home when your plans change and you come home earlier than expected. Although there is an initial outlay, over time these products should be able to save you moneyThe three main products on the market are all slightly different and here are some of those differences

We have had Tado installed for over 2 years now,  It is really simple and easy to use and controllable via your mobile phone. You set the temperature you want the house to be when you are at home, and the temperature when you are asleep along with what time you wake up and go to bed. Tado knows if you are at home or not by seeing how far your mobile phones are from the house and so as long as each member of the family has a mobile it knows if someone is home or not. The further away from home you are the cooler it will let the house get when you are out and it starts to warm it up as you get closer. They have recently also released some intelligent radiator valves which have the potential to save you even more money, we have had some for a year now (not Tado) and I’ll be giving you my thoughts on them soon. Tado has gone for a simple and neutral looking thermostat unit, which  shows current temperature and you can manually adjust it (although ours is a first generation which has no manual controls).

Nest*

Nest has gone for the pretty thermostat prize and it looks good. This thermostat needs to be taught what to do. To start with you need to change the temperature on the unit manually for a week or so – when you get up, you turn it up to a comfortable setting, when you leave for work, turn it down and so on. Within a few days it starts working out what time you get up, go to bed and everything in between. If your schedule changes you need to manually adjust the settings and after you have done it for a few days, Nest learns. It also has a movement sensor on the thermostat in your house, which will turn the heating down if it hasn’t seen movement for a while (you need to walk past for it to know you are there, so it needs to located in a place you would frequently walk past) and they have recently started integrating with their other smart technology to improve this. If you have their smoke detectors for example (which should be spread around your home) they also have movement sensors which can feed information into the heating system. You don’t need to have a mobile phone for Nest to work (you can control it via your laptop or tablet) but they have recently introduced a function for Nest to know if are at home or not via your mobile if you want it to.
Hive is going for a much simpler approach, a traditional schedule thermostat with the ability to remotely adjust the temperature. So if you go out for the day and forget to turn the heating off, you can use the phone app to turn it down, or if you’re coming home at an unusual time you can turn the heating up a bit earlier.
All of the products say they will save you money by giving you more control of your heating. How much you save and which is right for you will depend on your individual circumstances. So for instance, if you have a quite fixed schedule and just want to be able to control the temperature manually then maybe Hive is good enough for you. If you like your gadgets to be good looking and functional then Nest may work for you. If all the people in your house have mobile phones and you are at home at different times then maybe Tado is the thermostat of choice.
I might be biased towards Tado as I have one of their thermostats, but I did my research beforehand. Do yours and think about how often you are out and the heating is on or how often you are sitting on your sofa thinking it would be great to keep the heating on another hour.

Which intelligent thermostat would you choose and why? Let me know in the comments below.For more tips on how to save energy check out my post on 6 easy ways to reduce your heating bill!

 

Coming up next: Look out for my blog post next Monday which asks the question – does going zero waste mean you can’t have fun (especially with events like Christmas and New Years Eve coming up)?

4 thoughts on “Intelligent or remote heating controls – what’s the point?

  • These sound good. We'd only really looked at Hive and wasnt sure it would be thst much different to using our thermostat carefully so good to hear about other options. Presumably with yours you need to keep the location turned on on your phone ( and Internet? ) for it to know where you are? Just wondering as I always turn these off to save battery and son has to turn phone off at school.

  • Yes you are right, you do need to keep location turned on with Tado when you leave home and when you are coming home but you can leave it off between those times.

  • From what I've seen a lot of these smart home meters cost money to have fitted and then a monthly fee to run? if that's the case they'd need to save the owner more money than they currently do in order to be worth it.

  • Thanks for commenting Moneycorgi. I've had to look into that one! From what I can see some of them give you an option to rent or buy. If you buy there is no monthly fee.

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