Heating has got clever. Whether it is British Gas and the Hive system, Nest and its intelligent thermostat, Tado, or Honeywell and the Evohome offering, the days of scrambling in the airing cupboard to change how your home is heated are over.
Now, with not too much expense, heating systems can be connected to the internet, controlled via your smartphone, and even understand when you aren't at home, in order to help save you money.
We spoke to Jeremy Peterson, GM of Honeywell's EMEA Home Comfort & Energy Systems division, to find out what the future of heating in the home is, and how it is likely to change in the coming years and beyond.
In terms of the journey, where are we at the moment with the heating solutions we have now?
We are just at the start of where we are going. The market's awareness of heating intelligently in the home is still very limited and you will continue to see simplifications to the consumer offering by different companies, but at the same time more and more intelligent solutions from manufacturers. That is likely to mean more information being gleamed from data pulled out of the house.
How will we be able to use that data?
Over time we will use the data to get a better knowledge, and make the heating systems more efficient. The way that Honeywell do it now is via zoning. It is good for the moment, but in the long term it has a limited approach to how we solve the overall problem. Luckily there are lots of ways of improving efficiency.
So how can we make heating systems more efficient?
Intelligent systems will help that further. If users are happy to give up some control in terms of deciding for themselves when their house should be heated then we can be more efficient about how we do it. It's about intelligently alleviating consumer control. This is about people having to decide what information they are willing to give up to drive additional efficiency.
How much is it the responsibility of the home owner compared to the energy companies to make things better?
We do work with bigger companies, but where consumers are capable they should push to improve their heating.
Honeywell provides plenty of tools to make that happen. Our job is to try and stimulate that journey or decision. That means consumers shouldn't just wait for an extension to think about upgrading their system. The good news is that the excuses to improve your system are becoming less and less. Especially as price points continue to drop, the barrier to entry continues to be reduced.
With rising energy prices do you think that will change the way we look at heating our homes in the future, and if so in what way?
There are certainly a lot of ways that can be used today to impact today and tomorrow. Heating controls have been hugely undervalued though. We've spent a lot of time talking about installation and windows in the past, when some of the ways to improve efficiency is by simply having a better understanding of when to heat your house in the first place. When you look at recent government talk there is still plenty of room to move and grow with heating controls.
What do you think about APIs and the ability for third party apps to access your heating?
It will continue to grow and emerge going forward. Early adopters will continue to play with services like IFTTT. At Honeywell we published our API along time ago to allow people to experiment. You can't predict where consumers want to go, but as we march forward we want to be there to help and assist those customers as the industry looks to standardise itself.
Getting the consumer to understand the journey they are on is certainly going to be confusing for many, the alternatives that exist, the technologies, and the number of ecosystems could be confusing. Leveraging all the relationships and being apart of as many ecosystems as we can will be the right approach for Honeywell.
We are well positioned to be in this space. All of these things come together not only to make things work and we need to be sensitive of where consumers want to play.
What's next when it comes to heating the home?
Bigger picture stuff we are looking at, at the moment, is things like temperature and whether people are in the house. Currently, it's about simply turning on or off heating, but it might be that we don't need to turn the heating up, but just add more moisture to the room, or take it away to improve the conditions.
Perhaps the most important thing we are working towards at the moment is what the room actually feels like rather than just reading a given temperature. Ultimately, comfort is the answer. Most of the time people think comfort and efficiency are trade offs that you can't have both, but it doesn't have to be that way.
Where do you see heating in the home in five years time?
Certainly we are capable of using sensors to measure people in the room, the temperature outside, and the humidity etc. We should be able to be much more predictive and conscious of what's going on in the home rather than just working to a schedule that you've decided at some point when you installed the system.
In reality, it will probably be a mix of local and big data to make things even better, pulling in the best information to make the best of the situation at that time.