Feeling the pinch with energy prices on the increase? Installing equipment like Hive or Nest could help, but the question is – Is a smart thermostat worth it?
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.
What does a smart thermostat do?
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 remotely. The “smart” part I will get onto later.
Will a smart thermostat work in my home?
Smart thermostats are compatible with the majority of homes in the UK and can replace old-style thermostats. Check with a qualified installer if you’re unsure. For a fully functional thermostat, it will need to be connected to your WIFI.
Will a smart thermostat work without WIFI?
A major concern before having a smart thermostat fitted is whether it will work if your WIFI should drop out. After all, you don’t want to be left without heating because you can’t connect to your router.
Your thermostat will continue to work, but only through the device itself. That means if you want to turn the heating up, you will have to manually adjust the thermostat, rather than doing it from your phone. Yes, you will actually have to stand up and move!
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.
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.
Is a smart thermostat difficult to use?
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 a smart thermostat cost?
The 3rd generation Nest is available from Amazon 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.
There is sometimes the option to pay for installation too when you buy the unit. 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. Hive is slightly more expensive at £199. However, keep an eye out for the sales and you can often find both kits for cheaper. Or you could opt for an older model of Nest or Hive and save almost £100.
Any other benefits?
Smart homes seem to be the future at the moment. You can link your smart thermostat to units such as Amazon Alexa and Google Home. That means you can turn on your heating just by speaking!
How much can I save with a smart thermostat?
That’s the big question. Yes, I saw my gas bills drop by between 10-15%. It is near impossible to get exact figures on how much you will save though due to several factors:
- How you set up your thermostat.
- How often you leave the house.
- The temperature outside.
Based on my savings of just over £50 per year, it will take just over 4 years before I see a return for my money.
So, is a smart thermostat worth it?
Overall I think this is a great piece of kit. Not only does it save me effort from getting up off the sofa, but it also saves on my bills. It’s a long-term investment, but certainly worth it.
Which smart thermostat is best?
If you decide to go for a smart thermostat, the chances are you will choose between Hive or Nest. They both work in a similar way and are priced evenly. Once you’ve set your thermostat up, you won’t really need to change the settings that often, so how easy it is to use isn’t that important. Like I said earlier, I chose my thermostat solely on what I thought looked best.
If you’re interested in buying a smart thermostat, the Nest is available from Amazon.
Or take a look at the options from Hive.
If you’re looking at ways of cutting bills, why not look at the posts below:
Prices were correct at the time of writing.
Please note that this post contains affiliate links.