Remote heating technologies
It only controls a single zone in your home so you can’t programme your heating to be room specific, but not many households are used to, or demand, this level of control
We want everything at our finger tips. We want to save money. We want to save the planet. And we want to do it all with our phones...
It may come as a surprise that the unsexy world of remote heating controls ticks all these boxes.
One of the latest uprisings in our ‘connected’ revolution is the emergence of smart energy systems. Following in the wake of smartphones, smart televisions and smart cars, we now have smart thermostats letting us control our heating and hot water, reducing our bills and making us feel better about our homes and the environment.
Smart thermostats can not only be controlled manually, as some actually learn their user’s preferences depending on their habitual practices, and adapt accordingly. For example, your system could learn to heat the bathroom in the morning and bedrooms in the evening, enhancing levels of comfort and convenience as well as saving money.
The degree of smartness varies in line with learning capacity, multi-room/zoning, remote sensing and weather monitoring. The right smart heating system will be determined by the home, the user and the budget.
Richard Bailey from rb Gas in Oxford looks at three of the best smart remote heating systems
Most people have heard of Hive, which is available exclusively to British Gas customers, but there are currently a dozen or more smart heating systems available in the UK market including: Nest, Honeywell Evohome, Intuition, Tado, Salus, Climote, and Cosy that will work on standard boilers and boilers powered by LPG, bio-gas and oil.
Nest, owned by Google and created by ex-Apple employees, teamed up with nPower to offer a learning thermostat with auto-tune technology that builds a personalised schedule reflecting the customer’s habits and spotting cost-saving opportunities. It only controls a single zone in your home so you can’t programme your heating to be room specific, but not many households are used to, or demand, this level of control.
Over the relatively short space of a couple of weeks, Nest will learn when, for how long and at what temperature you like your heating on. It has a 150-degree sensor to allow it to detect if anyone is home and will quickly pick up and adapt to your timings like when you leave the house on different days and what time you lie-in to on the weekends. Nest is also connected to your Wi-Fi so it knows the weather forecasts and the True Radiant feature aims to reduce temperature swings by starting heating early enough that you’ll get the right temperature when you want it. Ensure the online service you use is encrypted so that data about your movements is safe.
Honeywell Evohome is arguably the most comprehensive smart heating solution, with ‘zones’ that allow incredibly specific control, and is supported by a powerful mobile app. So you can programme the heating in your home to come on and off to suit your schedule, warm bathrooms and kitchens in the morning, warm lounges and entrance halls in the evening etc.. Although it is multi-zonal, it is manual scheduling with no smart learning, and there is no web browser control, but for those not ready to entirely entrust their heating programming to technology it is the perfect choice.
Salus sits quite nicely between the two. Designed to reflect simplicity and ease of use, you can control your heating and hot water through your smart phone or PC over the internet and it offers either a single or dual zone option with the addition of an extra sensor.
Costing the earth?
Prices inevitably vary according to type, terms, function and facility but basic kits fall in the range of £150 to £250. Installation costs are low as they are all wireless systems, and most will pay for themselves with energy cost savings in about two years. As government, homeowners and developers alike look to save money and energy and increase the convenience of doing so, there is no escaping the fact that there is a revolution in how we control the heating in our homes.
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