Smart heating explained
Everyone loves to save money. And right now, thanks to the latest advancements in home automation, there's a big competition between companies to see which can save you the most cash on your utilities bill.
From energy suppliers like British Gas to startups like Cosy that earned its sea legs on Kickstarter, several smart heating solutions from these companies are being developed and marketed as the ultimate way for you to live a Jetson-style life, with the upmost comfort, while also maintaining awareness about how much you're spending.
If you're interested in learning more about smart heating and some of the available options, keep reading. Pocket-lint has defined home automation, how it has reinvented heating in the 21st century, and what you can do to embrace the smart revolution today.
What is home automation?
Home automation enables you to have automatic, electronic, and even remote control of your home as well as the devices, fixtures, accessories, and appliances inside.
Several manufacturers have already developed smart products for homes and various control systems that enable their automation.
Right now, smart heating is all the rage. It's not only a part of home automation but also saves you money and simultaneously gives you the oppurtunity to get a bit geeky.
What is smart heating?
Smart heating is a generic term for modern heating set-ups that either let you fine-tune and monitor the temperature throughout your home, or they can learn your habits and do all the temperature adjusting for you, and sometimes they even do both.
The point is...with smart heating, it is simpler and easier to control your indoor heating. There are also several types of smart heating options available, including (but not limited to): apps, learning thermostats, and connected systems.
What are some products available now?
Here are some of the most popular smart heating options out there. Keep in mind there are many more in existence, and that this is a brief overview.
Nest is a £179 (£249 with a professional installation) learning thermostat created by Tony Fadell and Matt Rogers, both previous Apple employees. Using a 150-degree sensor, it can recognise your habits and preferences and then set a heating schedule accordingly.
Over a few weeks, it will learn when you're home most often and what temperatures you like and for how long. Nest is also connected to Wi-Fi, enabling it incorporate data from online weather forecasts.
Tado is a £249 house solution with a central thermostat that you can retrofit to your current heating set-up. It uses a cloud-based heating app to let you remotely control your heating.
The app will track your location to determine when you have left the house and when you will be returning. Tado will also calculate what the weather is like outside and what temperature you have requested for when you return, and then it'll get your house ready for you.
Hive is from British Gas (though doesn't require the company's gas) and costs £199 with installation. It's a wireless system that replaces existing controllers, connects to your broadband, and enables you to control heating and hot water through an app or website.
READ: British Gas Hive review
Not only will you know the current temperature of your home, but you can also set alerts to let you know when your house has changed temperature. Plus you can turn the heating off or hot water on, remotely.
Evohome is from Honeywell, and it's a wireless-connected heating system that will let you control individual radiators and therefore specific rooms. It connects to your boiler and existing radiators, and you control the entire heating solution through a central console or smartphone app.
READ: Honeywell Evohome review
You can manage an entire house or up to 12 zones and all the radiators in each zone. It costs £249 for the Evohome Connected Pack, but the radiator zone kits are sold separately for £77 each.
As we mentioned earlier, there are several smart heating solutions on the market. Neo by Heatmiser is another example, as well as Ecobee's Smart Thermostat. Plus, with the hopes of helping you automate your home, many new startups and products are popping up each day.
Cosy, for instance, successfully completed fundraising on Kickstarter earlier this year. It is a wireless and multi-user home solution that allows you and your family to control household temperature through an app.
Will smart heating really save money?
Whether smart heating actually saves you money depends on a few factors. You must consider how long it'll take for the initial investment to pay for itself, how long you plan to stay where you live, and if you really need the bells and whistles. You should also periodically monitor your smart heating solution, even if it is automated, just to ensure it is correctly managing temperatures to you're liking.
That said, according to a BBC study conducted earlier this year, based on the £1,385 average dual fuel bill (OFGEM) and manufacturers' estimates, British Gas' Hive can save you £150 annually. But Tado can save you £155 more than Hive, and Honeywell beats them both with £400 estimated annual savings.
The EPA's Energy Star program also concluded that homes with smart or programmable thermostats can save up to £106 per year on heating and cooling.
What about smart cooling?
Although most smart heating solutions let you control how cool you'd like your home, there are new products available that are strictly for smart cooling. The Aros Smart Window Air Conditioner from GE and Quirky is just $279, for instance. It replaces your "dumb" air conditioner and can learn from your budget, location, schedule, and usage to automatically maintain your household temperature. You can also remotely control it with an app.