Feeling the pinch with energy prices on the increase? Installing equipment like Hive or Nest could help, but the question is “How much can I save with a smart thermostat?”
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.
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.
Is it 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.
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.
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.
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.
Hive vs Nest?
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.