Nest. Save Money on Heating with a Smart Thermostat

smart thermostat

Thinking about installing a Smart Thermostat? Do they really save you money and are they worthwhile?

One way that has been suggested to reduce your heating bill is to install a smart thermostat. Now, it is important that you don’t get confused between this and a smart meter. A smart meter is installed by your energy company and sends them figures on how much gas and electricity you use. This saves them from having to send somebody to read your meter and should give you more accurate bills. Smart thermostats, on the other hand, control your heating and/or hot water. There are a large number of thermostats available and they claim to save you anywhere between 20 and 40% off your heating bills.

How does a smart thermostat work?

A smart thermostat works in a similar fashion to a normal thermostat in that it controls the temperature of your house. You also have the option to control heating from your phone, and later models allow you to turn your hot water on or off. The “smart” part I will get onto later.

Is it difficult to set-up?

I have a Nest thermostat (other smart thermostats are available). I paid £50 to have it professionally installed, although many people with a little know-how can to do it themselves. The thermostat unit I could probably install myself. However, there is another piece of kit called a Heat Link. This connects to the boiler itself, and I really didn’t want to start playing with the boiler, especially when it’s in my son’s room.

The Nest thermostat replaced this Honeywell unit that was on my wall.

heating bills
Installation took just under an hour. I arranged it through Nest, but you can always contact local engineers to see if they are willing to install. After a brief demonstration, I was ready to start playing.
First, I needed to connect to the WIFI which was straightforward. Then I needed to install the app on both mine and my wife’s phone. Again, this was a simple task.
Next came the slightly daunting task of scheduling when the heating should come on.

heating bills

Is it difficult?

Although the image above may look confusing, it is pretty simple once you get used to it. It takes a little while of playing around with, but you soon get to grips with it. For example, at 06:00 my heating will be at 18 degrees and then rises to 19 at 07:00. Throughout the day it will rise and fall depending on my settings.

The beauty of a smart thermostat is that it learns. For example, if my heating is set to be 18 degrees at six in the morning, it adjusts to find out how long it will take to reach that temperature. So the first time I use it, the heating may come on at 5:30. If it doesn’t reach the required temperature by 6:00, then the next day it will start earlier. Or if it hits 18 degrees a lot quicker, it will start later.
Plus, as the thermostat is connected to the internet, it knows the outside temperature. So if it’s a colder day, the heating will come on earlier. You can also change the settings day-by-day. If you sleep in at weekends, you could always set the heating to come on much later in the morning.

I am able to control my heating from my phone through the Nest app whether I’m in the house or out. And because my wife and I both have the app on our phone, the thermostat knows if anybody is at home, so will adjust the heating accordingly. The latest generation (3rd) Nest also allows you to control your hot water if you don’t have a combi-boiler. This is incredibly useful if you’re out and fancy a shower as soon as you get back. Or if you can’t be bothered to get off the sofa to turn the water on.

How much does it cost?

The Nest is available from Amazon here for £189. You can also purchase a stand if you don’t want to wall mount it – allowing you to move it from room to room. You can also purchase the Nest with installation included for £279. This means that Amazon sends you the thermostat and when it arrives you simply call a number and they arrange for an installer to make a visit. Personally, I would contact some local firms first to see if they could offer a cheaper price for installation. Generally, a straightforward installation should take around an hour so I would aim for as close to £50 as I could.

Any other options?

Another decent alternative would be the Hive from British Gas. You’ve probably heard the annoying song from the advert. This does more or less the same as the Nest. Now, this is priced at 1 pence cheaper than the Nest, but with installation comes in at £249. So at £30 cheaper than the Nest is certainly worth considering. Another plus point to the Hive is that it is compatible with Alexa. That means, if you own an Amazon Echo, you can turn your heating up and down by just speaking.  It depends on how lazy you feel!

I chose the Nest purely on looks.  Yes, I am that shallow.

Does it work?

Yes, I saw my gas bills drop by between 15-20%. It is near impossible to get exact figures on how much you will save though due to several factors:

  1. How you set up your thermostat.
  2. How often you leave the house.
  3. The temperature outside.

Overall I think this is a great piece of kit. Not only does it save me effort from getting up off the sofa, it also saves on my bills.

Alternatively, you could look to save money by changing your supplier.

Deal rating 6/10. This is quite difficult to rate, as everybody’s savings will vary. However, in the long term, a smart thermostat can save money on your heating bills and help the environment.