As you consider turning on the central heating for the first time in months, note how simplistic the controls are.
Even if you have thermostatic radiator valves for different temperatures in each room, traditional controls are a blunt instrument.
The boiler turns on and off on a very basic timer with no sense of your actual movements — and changing it is often more trouble than it’s worth.
Smart heating controls are a vast improvement and don’t have to cost a fortune.
From £179.99: the Tado Smart Thermostat saves up to 31% (average £200) on heating each year
They include wifi and let you control heating — and sometimes hot water — intelligently from anywhere via app and some feature voice control, too. You’ll save energy and therefore save money on bills.
There are two main types of smart heating controls. The more affordable type replaces your home thermostat with a smart version.
This can be placed anywhere in the home because it communicates wirelessly to a small controller that’s attached to the boiler. This works better because you might not want your heating to be set by, for example the temperature in the hall. Maybe your priority is a cosy living room.
These smart thermostats are paired with a smartphone app that lets you create schedules personal to your movements and easy to change.
You can, for example, turn off the heating when you go on holiday, then turn it up the day before you return — no more pouring money down the drain for a week in order to come back to a warm home.
Smart thermostats are affordable, convenient and can often be fitted as a DIY job. You can also remove them easily, so they can move with you to a new home.
Control in each room
Get a system with individual smart controls on each radiator if you’d like to tailor the heating in different rooms of the house. Then look to the app for even more intelligence. It lets you create schedules that really take family life into account.
Your system can keep your home office warm on weekdays but not heat the children’s bedrooms. It can even know which days of the week they’re back promptly and which days they’re at a club.
£219: the Nest Learning Thermstat controls your central heating and works with voice control
Smart radiator control systems are more expensive because you’ll need six or more separate controllers, one on each radiator valve, plus a central hub attached to the boiler.
Some smart thermostats let you start small and then add radiator controls at a later date.
These whole-home heating control systems are more complex to fit and to remove, but if you sell your home they’re a selling point thanks to the energy savings and convenience.
Get smart: systems to consider
Hive Active Heating, £179
Save up to £120 a year on heating. Installed by British Gas engineers, Hive includes geolocation and can be set to “get ready by” a chosen time. Optionally add radiator controls. Works with Google Assistant, Alexa, Apple Homekit voice control and Apple Watch.
Nest Learning Thermostat, £219
Controls your hot water tank and central heating and works with Google Assistant voice control.
Tado Smart Thermostat, from £179.99
Saves up to 31 per cent a year (£200) on heating. Geolocation means it can tell when no one is home. Optional radiator controls. Works with Google Assistant, Alexa, Apple Homekit voice control.
From £1,795 with a fixed-price quote from a local installer. Change to an A-rated combi boiler to save £50-£300 a year on gas. Comes with a Google Nest Mini Home and Nest Learning Thermostat for voice-controlled heating, saving £85-£95 a year.
Netatmo Smart Thermostat, £159.99
Install DIY, designed by Philippe Starck. Add radiator controls. Works with Google Assistant, Alexa, Apple Homekit voice control.
Honeywell Home evohome Connected Thermostat, £218.99
Use the app or colour touchscreen to control heating by adding smart radiator controls
NEA Smart 2.0, from £600
For underfloor heating, saves up to 20 per cent using sensors, your habits, geolocation and weather data.