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What are smart thermostats?

What are smart thermostats?

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Last updated: 08 February 2022

Smart technologies are advancing. And if you’re looking to save money on your energy bills you may want to get smart, too. 

Smart thermostats can create bespoke energy programmes while increasing efficiency and cutting costs. Doesn’t that sound great?

Our guide looks at how smart home thermostats work and whether they could offer you the best energy deal going.

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How do smart thermostats work?

A smart thermostat connects to your boiler and controls the temperature in your home – just like a standard thermostat. But here’s where the difference lies: your smart thermostat can also be connected to any smart device, usually phones or tablets, via an app. And, with that app, you can now control your boiler via your thermostat all from your device.

Programming your heating to turn on or off at certain times, or setting the temperature, is nothing new. But a smart thermostat allows you to control all this remotely and more. Provided your device is connected, you no longer have to be physically home to control your energy usage. And here’s where it gets interesting, and also where you can save money on your energy bill…

Can a smart thermostat save me money?

There are many smart thermostats on the market, all offering a range of features that can help you get cheaper energy. Some of our favourites are:

  • Super-specific heating commands: by only heating your house when you’re actually home, you can really save money. Many UK households have their heating on a daily timer, cued for set hours. But if you get stuck at the office, or Thursday drinks accidentally go on way, way too long (we’re not judging), then that’s wasted heat being automatically pumped into your home when you’re not in. Smart thermostats allow you to control your heating anytime, anywhere, avoiding waste and unnecessary cost. 
  • Voice activated control: some thermostats can be controlled just by your voice, or can be hooked up to smart speakers like Amazon Echo or Google Home. 
  • Encouraged to drop the heat by a couple of degrees: your thermostat can even motivate you to lower your temperature by showing you how much money you could save with even a minor reduction that you might not even notice. 
  • A truly tailor-made energy programme: your smart home thermostat can learn your routine, track when you leave work and even auto-switch off the heating when it senses when the house is empty. 

Should I get a smart thermostat?

Financially and environmentally, smart thermostats can be big winners if their features are used to maximum effect. Yet they’re not suited to everyone.

First, you need to have a smart phone (or smart device) in order to have a smart thermostat. While the majority of us do, this tech integration isn’t for everyone and that’s okay. 

Critically, you also need to have a consistently good WiFi connection. Smart devices run on WiFi, so if your connection is unpredictable, unstable, or hair-pullingly frustrating, you won’t be able to maximise the benefits of your smart thermostat in order to save money on your energy bill. 
In summary, only purchase one if you have reliable tech that you enjoy using. 
You should also look into how insulated your home is. On the whole, older properties tend to have worse EPC ratings than their modern counterparts, but this isn’t exclusive. If your home isn’t energy efficient then you should work to improve insulation before installing a smart thermostat. It’s totally counterproductive to implement energy-saving measures when your home’s heat retention is already poor.
Finally, consider your long-term plan: is a smart thermostat a worthwhile investment? You’ll need to buy the device and possibly pay an installation fee (more on costs below), so if you’re planning on moving soon you may not reap those energy-saving benefits.

How much do smart thermostats cost?

Due to the advanced technology involved, installing a smart thermostat will set you back between £200 and £300. So, it depends whether this sum will be offset by the savings you make on your annual energy bill which, according to Ofgem, carries an average figure of around £1250 in the UK. Should you wish that a professional helps you get set up, it’s likely you’ll also pay an installation fee. 
The overall cost is just relative to how efficient your current thermostat is, and the figure you presently see on your utility bill. If you’re keen to embrace smart gadgets and use all energy-conserving features to your advantage, you can really save money, but otherwise you could find it’s just a swanky gadget that doesn’t fit with your energy needs.  

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Harry Pererra

Author: Harry Pererra

Harry turns on his experience in web design and programming to write about the latest news in the world of tech and broadband. When he isn’t writing for usave he is working towards his Blue Belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, and prefers dogs to cats.

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