Choosing a... Smart thermostat
A smart thermostat can save you a lot of money by intelligently controlling your heating.
Most smart heating devices are designed to be used with hot water central heating systems, with the boiler directly controlled by the system. These typically require a relay to be wired into your boiler, with a wireless thermostat giving you direct control. Smartphone apps then tie into the system to give you remote control. While it’s possible to fit controls yourself, you may want to pay an experienced plumber to do the job: expect to pay around £150 for a typical installation.
If you have electric heating, there are very few choices, and the big names (Nest, Honeywell and so on) do not directly support these systems.
Want smart hot water control? If you want to remotely set schedules and disable hot water while you’re away, choose your smart system carefully, as many don’t have this option. Hot water control usually requires a second relay to be wired into the boiler.
What kind of heating system do you want? There are two main choices: a central system and one with individual radiator controls. The former replaces your existing thermostat, and lets you set one temperature for your entire house. The latter requires each radiator valve to be replaced with a smart valve so that each room and radiator can have its own individual control. This option is more expensive to install but will provide you with greater savings.
Do you use a smart personal assistant? Make sure that your smart thermostat supports the one that you use. Amazon Alexa, powered by the Echo and Echo Dot, is the best-supported system; Apple’s HomeKit, powered by Siri, isn’t so well supported; Google Assistant, built into Google Home, is just gaining traction and supports Nest only.
If you want your smart heating system to do more, look for IFTTT support. With this handy system, you can set automatic rules, such as turning the heating off if the outside temperature rises.