Finally it is getting warmer… however, with many more of us working from home, we expect some people have been playing ‘thermostat wars’: where one person believes in putting on a jumper (my partner who I think might have Inuit ancestry) and the other who is perpetually cold (me!)…
Our experience with a basic thermostat
For the first couple of years in our (fortunately small and surprisingly well insulated house) we persisted with a very basic timer – the heating was on or off at certain times of day. We found we were using a lot of energy and either overheating or underheating the house. Often, we’d forget we had turned the heating on ‘for an hour’ and would wake up in the middle of the night in a sauna, or would adjust the settings just at the wrong time for the seasonal change. Or my least favourite – coming home from holiday to a freezing house and having to wait for the house to warm up again.
In the zone with a smart thermostat
When we changed our boiler in early 2019, we decided to install a Nest thermostat.
To clarify; you don’t need to wait until you install a new boiler. Nest, Honeywell or other equivalents can be added to most heating systems, there are also versions for electric rads and valves which you can add to individual radiators for zone heating. Speak to a professional to get advice on what will work best for your home.
We opted for one thermostat which controls the whole system.
If your pipework is split into zones then you can opt for a thermostat per zone, to monitor and control the heating schedule per zone. For example, you can heat rooms or zones only when required – which should help your energy consumption and costs.
Bear in mind that for standard water-based heating systems, configuring different thermostat zones require pipework to be run separately per zone. This allows each area to be heated independently from the other areas. It is worth considering heating controls early on in the planning of your renovation project – especially if you are changing/ replacing pipework.
Absolute have done this many times during larger renovation projects – while the cost is high upfront, it is well worth it, especially if you’re already ripping up floors/ changing pipework in the walls etc.
We placed the thermostat in our lounge which is a fairly good indication of the temperature throughout the house. Your plumber should advise the best location- usually in the hallway away from doors/ windows/ heat sources. In a zoned system you’d place 1 thermostat in each zone.
How the Nest thermostat works
The thermostat effectively works out the temperature where it’s located, and turns the heating on and off to achieve the heat required at certain times of the day – per the schedule you set up.
The app allows you to set up the schedule and you can adjust settings on the thermostat itself. We set up our schedule by adding the required temperature at different times of the day including lower temperatures during the night or when we’re typically out.
The system learns over time how quickly your house heats up/ cools down- so will work out the most efficient schedule for turning the heating on and off to achieve the required temperature. The huge benefit to this system, particularly in the UK where it snows one day and is 18 degrees the next, is that you rarely have to plan ahead or check the weather/ adjust your settings. The system learns what to do and does it for you giving you a temperate/ comfortable home all year round.
Other features include using the ‘away’ setting: by allowing app access to your location it can turn the heating off or to your eco setting while the house is empty. This further reduces wasted energy consumption. Also (my favourite) you can turn the heating on remotely ahead of arriving back from holiday.
Overall, I’d give Nest a 4/5
- I love the ease of control
- Very attractive thermostats in a range of finishes
- Set up was very straightforward – although you do need a professional to connect it to your boiler/ heating controls. This took under an hour.
- The thermostat is very clever/ effective at reducing your energy usage- we noticed the change immediately in our bills.
- I also enjoy the monthly reports on energy use- a real eye opener (and positivity boost when you earn green leaves for low usage!)
Could be better
- The app scheduling page is clunky/ fiddly to adjust- I’d have expected Nest to improve this sooner. Fortunately, once the thermostat had learned our system we didn’t have to adjust again.
- High set up cost for the thermostat and extra cost for the stand- not much for one zone but would add up very quickly for multiple zones (though arguably you’d quickly earn that money back in reduced heating bills).
- There are lots of benefits to installing a smart thermostat in your home – including saving money and energy.
- Installing a one-zone set up with your existing pipework is easier than you might think.
- For larger properties, consider your ‘zoning’ needs while planning any significant renovation work.
Let us know if you’d like to hear more about smart controls for your home or if you’d like help setting up Nest in your property.