(Pocket-lint) - Smart heating is cool - pardon the pun. Not only does it give you complete control over your home's temperature both home and away, generally through a smartphone app, it can also greatly save energy. And that means smaller bills and, potentially, less of an impact on the environment.
It is also relatively easy to install, works with most existing heating appliances, and can be inexpensive.
In short, there's little excuse as to why you shouldn't make your heating smarter.
That's why we've put together this handy guide on smart heating, what to look for depending on your budget, and a few tips on what to do with a system once it's been installed.
What to look for in a smart heating system
There are several different types of smart heating solutions. Most comprise a smart thermostat and receiver box that controls the flow of hot water through your radiators.
Some systems can work across multiple zones, while others are whole home options. And, some even include smart radiator thermostats so you can control each radiator individually.
The other thing to consider is whether the thermostat is wall-mounted or comes with a stand. The latter is a better idea if you want to leave it on a shelf in the kitchen or living room, or even want to move it around the house.
Whichever you choose, a smart heating system needn't break the bank. The Honeywell Lyric T6, for example, costs around £110 for the wireless version - including the thermostat and receiver. And it can be connected to a boiler directly or immersion tank.
Apple HomeKit, Google Assistant, Alexa control
Another thing to look for when choosing a smart heating system is whether it will work with any voice assistants you might already have, or your existing smart home setup.
Many, from the aforementioned Honeywell Home, Nest, Tado, Hive and more, will work with at least one of the smart assistants, often more.
They also often support the IFTTT standard, meaning whichever you choose will likely work within multiple apps and can be activated along with other smart home devices. For example, you could set up a routine within Apple HomeKit to turn on your heating and close your smart curtains at a set time each night. Or do so with a simple voice command.
Voice commands are also great for controlling just your heating generally, and with nigh-on all of the big brand systems working with Alexa, Google Assistant and Siri,you can regulate the temperature in your home just by saying it out loud: "Alexa, turn the temperature down to 16-degrees, for example".
Place your main smart thermostat carefully
Considering your home heating settings will be determined by the placement of the thermostat, you need to consider where to put it to both ensure each room is delivered the optimum temperature and to save energy.
This is especially important if your thermostat is wall-mounted as it cannot be moved. So putting it in the coldest room in the house means that it will only register the current temperature in that room. And, if you have all the radiators in the home turned on in some capacity, then they will continue to stay heated even if not needed.
Of course, you can just turn off radiators that are not needed, but one option is to place smart wireless thermostats on each radiator in the home, all served through one central system. That way, they can regulate the temperature in each room automatically, or be set remotely to ensure rooms not being used are not wastefully burning away heat and energy.
This is a more expensive solution, but could be the best way to save the most amount of energy in the long run.
Another great way to save energy is to ensure your smart heating system isn't activating when you're not at home. You can do this through timers, sure, but what if you plan to stay out longer or return earlier?
The vast majority of smart thermostat systems come with their own application (and/or work through Apple HomeKit, Google Home or another umbrella smart home hub). And within that app there is generally an option to geofence your system.
That means you can set a radius on a local map on your smartphone where, if you leave it (determined by your phone's GPS tech), your heating system automatically turns itself off. Then, once you re-enter that radius, the system switches back on.
This way, you can ensure your home is adequately heated for your return, but saves energy while you are out.
Thanks to IFTTT, you can also set your system to switch on and off with other devices, such as a smart door lock, or weather sensor placed outside.
One of the best consumer benefits to having a smart heating system is that you can control it remotely - from the other side of the world, if you like.
Each of the systems comes with its own Android and iOS app that not only offers similar functionality to the touchscreen thermostat, but much more besides. You can schedule daytime and sleep settings, for example. Or, optimise the system so it heats a little earlier than the hard timer you have set, so it's a decent temperature when you wake up.
You can also get notifications to your phone, with temperature alerts and the like.
And, should you suddenly remember while on holiday that you left the heating on full blast, you can simply tap a holiday mode or such like to switch the entire system off.
As long as you have an internet connection, your heating system is within reach. Now that really is smart.