British Gas has announced that it plans to play a larger role in controlling your home energy, launching a new brand known as Hive. Hive, by British Gas, will be a family of devices and systems designed to drag your energy controls into the modern world.
Available to pre-order from today, Hive Active Heating will replace the existing controllers with a wireless system, along with connection to your broadband connection. Once installed by a British Gas installer, you'll be able to get the controls from your smartphone using an app or via a website.
You'll be able to control heating and hot water, as well as set alerts to let you know that your house has changed temperature, set frost protection remotely and so on.
The idea is to take the controls of your heating and hot water out of a dark cupboard and put them literally in the palm of your hand, with Nina Bhatia, MD of Connected Homes at British Gas, saying at the London launch of Hive that people were increasingly comfortable with "the applification of their lives".
"We can join the dots between the supply of energy, insight into consumption and the means to control it, with a British Gas-installed product and a beautiful, modern, intuitive app," said Bhatia.
The smartphone app or website will let you know what the current temperature is, as well as letting you change things remotely. You'll be able to turn on the hot water on your way home, turn off the heating on those bizarre autumn days when the sun suddenly comes out, as well as being able to monitor your home from anywhere that you have an internet connection.
You'll also be able to adjust your heating or hot water schedules and from our quick play with the app, it all seemed very intuitive, with a nice simple interface.
British Gas claim that about £150 a year is wasted, because people aren't actively controlling things like heating, preferring instead to leave it as it is - even when they're not in the home.
Technically, the new Hive system will work on the ZigBee wireless protocol, so could then be integrated into other home automation controllers and the new Hive product offering builds in previous British Gas active remote offerings.
Hive will cost you £199 for installation and it available for pre-order from today, but critically, it's not dependent on British Gas supplying your energy, as you'll be able to sign up regardless. You can find out more information on Hivehome.com.