Smart thermostats provide a useful way to have more control over the energy you use at home, but with several different models on the market, it can be hard to know where to start.
Most energy providers have a particular model they will recommend to their customers, and some even provide discounts on certain models, but you are usually able to use any smart thermostat you like.
Here we’ve looked at some of the best smart thermostats on the market to make picking the right one for you a little easier.
What is a smart thermostat?
Smart thermostats work much like a traditional thermostat, except that they connect to your wifi, so you can control your heating remotely from anywhere in the world through an app on your phone, tablet or another device.
Smart thermostats often come with a range of additional features, which may include:
- Geofencing – Through GPS tracking or RFID tagging, your smart thermostat can work out when you’re home and when you’ve gone out and will automatically turn off your heating when you leave the house, or back on when you return.
- Winter-proofing features – Some smart thermostats will work with weather apps to make sure your home is heated to certain temperatures during the winter months to prevent your heating system and pipes from freezing.
- Open window detection – Some smart thermostats can detect draughts in your home, which could be coming from open windows, and they’ll send you a notification so you aren’t wasting energy.
- Learning features – Over time, some smart thermostats will learn your behaviours and switch your heating on and off in line with this. Some smart thermostats also learn how long your home takes to get to your set temperatures, as well as recognising which rooms are used more and prioritising the heating in those rooms, although you’ll usually have to have heating zones set up for this.
- Heating zones – You can buy smart radiator thermostats that connect to your smart thermostat to only heat specific rooms in your home rather than your whole property.
How much do smart thermostats cost?
Smart thermostats are more expensive than traditional ones with most costing between £120 to £225 for the unit. You’ll also need to pay for an engineer to install it, which can cost between £30 and £80 on top, according to Checkatrade.
Some smart thermostat providers come with subscription packages to help you get the most out of your device, which you’ll pay for on a monthly basis. These subscriptions generally cost between £2.49 and £3.99 a month.
One thing that’s worth remembering is that some energy providers offer discounts if you buy their recommended smart thermostat or they may provide a purchasing plan so you can spread the cost over a number of months.
Of course, the hope is that the upfront cost will be gradually outweighed by the money your smart thermostat might save you.
Can a smart thermostat save you money?
Most of us could save money by using our heating more efficiently, and smart thermostats are designed to help you do just that.
The amount you might be able to save will vary from person to person, but Google Nest suggests that you could save between 8.4% and 16.5% on your annual energy usage by using a smart thermostat, while Tado suggests it could be as much as 31%.
Based on the above figures, with the average household paying £1,834 on their energy bills this year, a smart thermostat could potentially save you anything from £154 up to £568 a year, so you could easily recoup the cost.
Which smart thermostat brands do energy providers recommend?
While in most cases, you can choose whichever smart thermostat you want, some energy providers recommend certain brands, and you might be able to get a discount if you choose your provider’s recommended model.
Here are the brands that some of the biggest energy providers recommend:
Smart thermostat brand
Worcester Bosch EasyControl
What are the best smart thermostats to use?
The most popular smart thermostat brands include Nest, Hive, and Tado, but there are lots more out there that might suit you better. The right smart thermostat for you is really down to personal preference. Some people want something all singing, all dancing, while others will just want something that’s a small step up from their old thermostat.
Hive is a British Gas technology, so this is their recommended smart thermostat. There are two main models available, the Hive Thermostat and the Hive Thermostat mini. They offer similar functions, but the mini has fewer options on the thermostat itself, so you have to access these functions through the Hive app.
- Temperature control
- Heating schedules
- Frost protection – this means when temperatures drop below 7℃, your Hive Thermostat will keep your heating and water at a consistent temperature so they don’t freeze
- Voice control capabilities – with other smart home devices
- Boost feature that turns on your heating or hot water for a short period of time before automatically turning off
- Daily heating history tracking.
Hive Thermostat – Between £79.99 and £179.99.
Hive Thermostat Mini – Between £45.99 and £91.96.
Hive doesn’t recommend installing your Hive device yourself and if you want one of their engineers to install it, it will set you back a further £99.
To gain more insightful information about your heating and find more efficiencies you can also pay for Hive Heating Plus which is either £3.99 a month or £29.99 a year. This subscription offers the following additional features:
- Heating History: Week/Year View
- Heating History: Cost/Integrated Weather
- Personalised Budgets & Status Tracker
- Savings Tracker
- Energy Saving Tips
- Heating Efficiency Alerts
- Extended Warranty
- 10% Hive Discount and free delivery
- SMS notifications.
Nest is Google’s smart thermostat offering which can work with a number of smart assistants. There are two versions currently available, the Nest Learning Thermostat and the Nest Thermostat E. They have similar features, but there are a couple of differences between the two models.
The Nest Learning Thermostat is the more expensive option, it connects to your boiler so can control both your heating and hot water and comes in a sleek design, with features that make it easy to read from further away.
The Nest Thermostat E is slightly cheaper and is easier to install than the Learning Thermostat, but is slightly less aesthetically pleasing and doesn’t have a touchscreen.
They also have slightly different compatibility. While both will connect to most central heating systems, only the Nest Learning Thermostat can control your hot water.
- Temperature control
- Scheduling and auto-scheduling where your thermostat learns the temperatures and times you use your heating and schedules this for you
- Motion and proximity sensors that can tell if you are in the room with the thermostat
- Access via app
- Home report on your energy usage and spend
- Push notifications for events, errors, alerts and so on
- Intelligent learning of energy use behaviours.
Nest Learning Thermostat – Between £130 and £219.
Nest Thermostat E – Between £110 and £199.
Nest suggests that you have a professional install your Nest device, although it does say that you should be able to install it yourself, depending on your compatibility. If you do hire someone to install it for you, this could set you back between £30 and £80.
Unlike the Hive device, Nest doesn’t ask you to pay any ongoing costs for full use of your thermostat.
Tado is the smart thermostat of choice for a number of UK energy providers and is a straightforward, easy-to-install option. There’s only one model from Tado, which is the Smart Thermostat V3+. You can however purchase different packages, depending on your heating set up and you can choose either a wired version that uses your current wired heating system, or a wireless version.
- Temperature control – can be set up in zones
- Smart Schedule – you can set this up yourself or it can be automated
- Open Window Detection
- Air Comfort – this is a detection system that can tell you about the air quality in your home, including air freshness, temperature and humidity and provides suggestions to improve it
- Insightful reports
- Weather adaptation – helps to keep your home at a pre-set temperature
- Apps updates included
- Smart Home Integrations.
Wired Smart Thermostat V3+ Starter Kit – between £109.99 and £199.99.
Wireless Smart Thermostat V3+ Starter Kit – between £99.99 and £199.99.
Tado says that most people should be able to install their smart thermostats themselves, whether they’ve chosen the wired or wireless versions. Tado thermostats come with an app that can assist the process of installation and set up and also has an extensive help centre online to help with troubleshooting.
Tado also has an Auto Assist feature that you can purchase through the app which is either £3.99 a month or £34.99 a year. This feature gives more automation to some of the above features plus two more features:
- Care & Protect – this monitors the health of your heating system, helping to detect issues and giving you options to fix it yourself or contact a professional
- Energy IQ – this provides insight into your energy usage by giving you an overview of your consumption, creating a forecast of your usage in the coming month and how you’ve performed against past usage.
There are plenty of other ways you might be able to reduce your energy bills if you decide a smart thermostat isn’t right for you. Find out more in our guide Energy saving tips: how to reduce your bills.
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