How to

28 October 2016

Smart Thermostats - Benefits and Best Options


Winter is coming, and composite forecasts are suggesting that it may not be as mild as the last one. We’ve covered how to prepare the interior and exterior of your home for winter, and one of the indoor tips mentioned a new tech that’s revolutionising interior heating. Smart thermometers and heating systems are part of the new wave of automation gadgets entering the home over the last couple of years, the hyper-connected internet of things. They can do a lot to take of control of your heating, saving you money and keeping you warm. In this article we’ll take a look at what they are, how they work, and some smart options for this winter.

Most of us are used to normal, simple thermostats. You set a temperature, and if the ambient temperature drops below that, on comes the heating. Usually this takes place on a timer as well, so that the heating is off at night. Smart thermostats take this to the next level, allowing much more customisable timescales that can be controlled from any internet-connected device, like your phone. This means you can, for example, switch on your heating remotely as you leave work, meaning it only comes on as needed. This has a significant impact on energy savings through sheer ease of use and efficiency.

On top of this, smart thermostats can perform a few extra duties such as recording temperature internally or externally, how long the heating system has been running, or alerting you when an air filter needs changing. The even smarter thermostats can automatically learn when the house is likely to be occupied based on your routines. This can save even more energy whilst still pre-heating or cooling the house before you arrive home. If your schedule changes, the smart thermostat will gradually adjust accordingly. Some of the really high end options can even control different zones of your house, meaning different rooms can be different temperatures.

Let’s take a look at a few of the options available.


Nest Learning Thermostat

One of the most popular in the market, the Nest Learning Thermostat is dependable, easy to use, and relatively reasonably priced. It doesn’t have quite as many extra options as some of the higher up tech, but it offers a great balance between price and functionality. You can link it up with Nest’s range of other devices such as their smart smoke and carbon monoxide alarm, and the Nest Cam camera. The latest 2016 version can even look after your hot water, and the clever app can tell it when you’ve gone out so that it can switch off the heating.

£199 (£249 with installation) - nest.com


Hive Active Heating 2

Another reasonably priced option, and thus a bit of a rival to the Nest gadget; the Hive shares many of the same features. The app is simple and intuitive, giving you remote control with a quick boost option. The Hive also uses phone geolocation to suggest turning the heating on or off. Another great feature is the holiday mode with frost protect. This shuts off the heating when you’re away, except for automatic activation when the pipes are cold enough for frost damage to be a risk.

£179 (£249 with installation) - hivehome.com


Tado

The Tado offering follows a similar route to the other mid-level devices. What sets it apart is a more finely tuned GPS detection system that allows multiple users. The system detects who is around, and how near to or far from the house they are, allowing much more precise heating control. 
They also offer a money-back monthly payment option, so you can put the money you save on heating bills towards the device price.

£199 (rental option available) - tado.com


Honeywell EvoHome

This is where we start to get into the really smart (and therefore more expensive) tech. The EvoHome’s main selling point is its expansive customisation options. By fitting smart TRVs (thermostatic radiator valves) to each radiator in the house, it becomes possible to control each and every room in the house separately, and remotely. Combine this with phone tech and you can tell when someone is in a room and heat it, so you can see how efficient this tech can be, and the potential energy savings. Even the degree of customisation this permits marks great progress. You can have your bedroom heating on in the morning, kitchen and bathroom slightly later, living room when you come home, bedroom again in the evening. The possibilities are endless. The drawback, however, is the price. The main EvoHome itself is not too expensive, but the TRVs can really burn a thermostatically controlled hole in your pocket, at around £50. The best balance to strike is to only buy TRVs for the rooms you use often. Still, if you have the money, this offers the ultimate level of customisation, and perhaps the greatest savings in the long run.

£249 + TRVS - honeywelluk.com


Heat Genius

Another option at the top end of the bracket, the Heat Genius is very similar to the EvoHome. The device creates zones throughout the house using TRVs, zones that you can then control using a laptop or smartphone. It can also measure occupancy, letting you better customise the system according to your needs. Again, the main unit is not the main expense, as it's all the customisation that will really set you back.

£249 + - heatgenius.co.uk


Momit Home Thermostat

To go from one end of the spectrum to the other, the Momit is a good value smart thermostat proposition. It has all the basic features of remote control down, but it can’t control your hot water. It does offer geolocation features, though, which is quite impressive for the price. A solid budget option, Momit also offers a learning thermostat that is slightly more expensive.

£99 - momit.com


There are a few other options, but we think that these are the main contenders. They offer a selection of value and sophistication suitable for all different home sizes and budgets. Remember, many of them are available on online retail sites for quite a bit cheaper, so make sure you shop around to get the best deal.

Overall, smart thermostat gadgets mark an exciting step forward in home heating technology. Pick one from this list and keep your home warm this winter whilst saving money on energy bills. It will pay itself off eventually!


Sam Franklin

With a master’s in Literature, Sam inhales books and anything readable, spending his working hours reformulating the info he gathers into digestible articles. When not reading or writing, he likes to put his camera to work around the world, snapping street photography from Stockholm to Tokyo. Too much of this time spent in Japan teaching English has nurtured a weakness for sashimi, Japanese whisky, and robot cafés.