Smart devices are big business in the UK. According to a survey conducted by Statista, 19% of UK homeowners already own a smart device such as a smart thermostat for energy management. With homeowners becoming more energy and cost conscious, the installation of smart thermostats in homes will continue to rise. But do they save money? This article will help to answer that.
What are smart thermostats?
A good place to kick things off is to clarify what a smart thermostat is.
Smart thermostats are a type of programmable thermostat which connect your heating system to the internet. They are packed full of energy saving features which makes it easier to control your heating simply and efficiently while you’re on the go.
Sometimes, smart thermostats are confused with smart meters. The difference between the two is that smart thermostats give you control of your heating by being connected to the internet and smart meters simply track your energy use.
Often your energy supplier will offer you a smart meter and install it for free.
Why some thermostats don’t work with underfloor heating
‘Can Nest or Hive thermostats control electric underfloor heating?’ is a common question we get asked and the short answer is no. Here’s why.
Nest (or similar) thermostats are designed to switch low electrical current systems of up to 3A. Because electric underfloor heating systems are high current systems (up to 16A) you’ll need additional wiring and relays to use it.
Another big reason is that with an electric underfloor heating system, the recommended maximum temperature to run it is 27oC. Typically thermostats like Nest or Hive measure air temperature and not the temperature of the floor. This means that you are unable to effectively set a safe temperature for the floor (e.g. 27oC) which means a higher risk of unwanted damage to the floor finish which costs valuable time and money to fix.
So, if you are installing electric underfloor heating, use a thermostat specifically designed to effectively control it.
What are the features of a smart thermostat?
Smart thermostats are more feature-rich than any other thermostat. Features can also vary depending on the manufacturer too. So, we’ve put some of our favourite smart thermostat functions together as a little bit of guidance.
Creating heating zones in your home is a great way to help you run your heating much more efficiently. If you’ve got traditional central heating, you’ve probably experienced ‘the heating challenge’. What do we mean? It’s the race to turn down all the radiators in rooms that you don’t need to be heated. Heating empty spaces just wastes energy and money.
Smart thermostats help you to create zones, so you are only heating the rooms that you need to be heated. You can also programme different temperatures for each room. For example, you probably don’t want your kitchen to be as warm as your lounge so adjust the temperature accordingly.
If you have traditional central heating, you’ll need to get smart thermostatic valves for each radiator. However, electric underfloor heating by its very nature naturally creates a zone once installed and therefore much easier to control with a smart thermostat.
Learning from data
If you love data, you’ll love a smart thermostat. They can provide you with all types of data including showing you the times when you use the most energy, how long it takes to heat each room and where you can potentially reduce energy consumption which will help to make a dent in your energy bills.
Another big plus with a smart thermostat is that you can create a much more detailed and finely tuned heating schedule to complement your lifestyle. For example, if you are usually out at certain times of the day or evening, it can even help you program your heating to switch off while you are not at home.
A really great feature that some smart thermostats offer is geofencing. This is a clever bit of tech which sets a virtual perimeter around your home. When you have your phone with your mobile app installed, the thermostat will turn off your heating when you leave the set perimeter and turn it on when you enter it. So, worrying about leaving the heating on becomes a thing of the past.
More features to look out for
Depending on what brand of smart thermostat you go for, features can vary.
Temperature alerts: these alerts are pushed to your smartphone and let you know if your heating temperature is getting too high so you can turn it down and reduce energy waste. It also let’s you know when it maybe a little too cold so you can crank it up.
Local weather: yep, some smart thermostats consider the local weather forecast when helping to heat your home.
Detecting open windows: the thermostat can sense a drop in temperature when a window is open. The homeowner then receives an alert on their smartphone and the heating system can ether adjust accordingly or go in ‘standby mode’ so energy is not wasted trying to compensate for the sudden drop in temperature.
Do smart thermostats work with other smart home devices?
They most certainly do! It’s very common. Most smart thermostats are compatible with Amazon Echo, Google Home and IFTTT (If This Then That). This means that, once your have connected your thermostat to a smart device like Amazon Echo, you can ask Alexa to turn your heating on or off, up and down as well as checking the temperature your heating is set to.
So, do smart thermostats save money on heating bills?
Smart thermostats can help you to save money on your heating bills, but it is not guaranteed because it is very dependent on how you live and what your habits are. For example, if your household has almost an unbreakable routine and you leave the home and return similar times each day, then a programmable thermostat would suffice. However, if your routine is a little more unpredictable, then having the capability to control your heating on the go is a big plus and will help you to control your heating more effectively and therefore reduce your energy use which will keep some cash in your pocket.
You’ll find lots of claims made by thermostat manufacturers on how much you can save but these are often based on a household using the same heat setting all the time, or assuming that heating is turned down only overnight and not during the day. It is important to remember that the heating habits of each household are different so energy and cash savings can vary.
Will smart thermostats save you money?
Yes! They will save you money through better efficiency over time but don’t expect and instant change to your bill that you would get from changing energy suppliers.
Have a question?
If you have any questions about controlling your electric underfloor heating, please contact our team who are always on hand with helpful advice that can save you both time and money.