Smart Thermostats

person controlling a smart thermostat

By 8 min read


A smart thermostat can save you as much as £154 per year

1.67 million households in the UK already own a smart thermostat

If all UK homes had one, we could cut up to 18.3 million tonnes of CO2 per year


Welcome to the future. For many years, we’ve had to accept mediocre technology and limited control when it comes to managing our heating – but not anymore.

Smart thermostats allow you to decide exactly how and when to heat your home, and to change your mind whenever you want – all remotely – with just the tap of a finger or a few spoken words.

This allows you to save money, time, and energy.

Smart thermostats are part of a smart revolution that currently sees 23% of people in the UK own one or more smart home devices, according to YouGov – so get on board, and get saving.

person controlling a smart thermostat

What is a smart thermostat?

A smart thermostat is a thermostat that can be controlled with a remote, internet-connected device.

This could be a hub, which is the device at the centre of your smart home network – the one that connects all your smart items and control communications between them.

Somewhat confusingly, these aren’t always called hubs. For example, Philips call their smart bulbs’ hub a ‘bridge’, while smart speakers like an Amazon Echo or Google Nest can also act as hubs.

You can also access your smart thermostat’s settings with a smartphone or tablet. This means you can control a smart thermostat by using a hub, your voice, and/or an app on your phone or tablet.

How do they work?

A smart thermostat functions exactly like a regular one, except they’re also connected to wifi.

So whenever you tell your smart thermostat to change the temperature – whether through an app, hub, or speaker – it communicates that command to the thermostat through your wifi network.

This works instantly, from wherever you are in your home – or indeed, anywhere in the world.

If you’re using a phone or tablet to control your smart thermostat’s settings, it doesn’t even need to be connected to your wifi – it can also connect to mobile data like 3G or 4G, or 5G if you’re lucky.

They also interact with their users, feeding back the data they gather to help you to make your heating more efficient.

However, if you get your warmth from storage heaters or heat pumps, most smart thermostats won’t work for your system.

How much is a smart thermostat?

Smart thermostats generally cost between £160 and £200.

This relatively cheap price makes them one of the most cost-effective ways of saving money through smart devices.

The benefits of a smart thermostat

Get more control

A smart thermostat allows you to change your home’s temperature, of course, but it also lets you schedule all your heating – and without having to trek to your thermostat every time you need to make it hotter or colder.

This can be useful for disabled or elderly people who have difficulties moving around their homes, and for those of you working from home, who don’t want to have to break focus several times per day to make your environment hotter or colder.

There are also models like the Google Nest Learning Thermostat, which work quickly to understand your routine and preferences.

The machine will then heat your home efficiently at the required times and temperatures, with next to no waste, reducing the energy you use and cutting your bills.

Even if you don’t buy a learning model, with a smart thermostat, you’ll have every chance to make your energy usage more effective.

For one thing, you’ll always be 100% sure the temperature settings on your smart thermostat are accurate. This will allow you to quickly find the temperature you’re most comfortable with – no expensive trial and error required.

And if you’ve forgotten to turn your heating off when you’ve gone out, you can fix that with just a couple of taps.

Likewise, if you’re coming back from a trip – lucky you – you can make sure your home is warm for when you return by turning the heating on a couple of hours before you get there.

woman controls smart thermostat with her smart watch

Save money

Smart thermostats can cut your energy bills by £75, the Energy Saving Trust (EST) has told us – but that seems to be the floor of what’s possible. Let’s go up to the ceiling.

Scottish Power, for instance, says a smart thermostat could cut your heating bill by 14%.

And according to Tado, its smart thermostats cut an average of 31% from customers’ heating bills.

Tado’s figure would mean a saving of £154 per year for the average household, which spends £495.60 per year on heating. That’s double the savings that the EST estimates.

Cutting your energy usage by somewhere in the region of 14% to 31% sounds pretty good, right? But why do these averages vary?

Well, how much you can save depends on how efficient your heating is right now, how big your home is, and whether you get a thermostat that’s smart enough to learn your habits and increase your schedule’s efficiency for you.

Reduce your carbon footprint

When it comes to heating, the average UK home uses 12,000kWh. That produces, on average, 2.2 tonnes of CO2.

The average person in the UK is responsible for 6.5 tonnes per year, which means heating makes up a third of your carbon footprint.

Depending on whether we take Scottish Power or Tado’s estimate, a smart thermostat could save you at least 0.3 tonnes of CO2, and as much as 0.7 tonnes, every year. Forever.

6% of households in the UK already have smart thermostats, according to YouGov, which adds up to 1.67 million homes.

If every one of the remaining 26.13 million homes acquired a smart thermostat, we could save up to 18.3 million tonnes of CO2 per year.

Is it worth it to get a smart thermostat?

Yes. The average smart thermostat costs around £180, meaning that even if you take ScottishPower’s pessimistic estimate, a typical home will pay off this investment in less than three years.

And after that point, you’re saving anywhere from £69 to £154 per year, with no catch.

Who is it for?

Is it for renters?

It can be, but we cannot emphasise how important it is to ask your landlord for permission.

Hopefully, they’ll agree to it being installed, and they may even reduce your rent if you pay for it – after all, you’re making their property more attractive to future tenants, for free.

The other hitch is that a smart thermostat needs to be wired into your heating system, meaning you can’t just take it with you when you move home.

So if you’re planning to move in the next year or two, we’d recommend waiting until you’re more settled to get a smart thermostat.

Is it for a big home?

Absolutely, that’s a no-brainer. If you own a large or even medium-sized home, a smart thermostat can save you a significant amount of money, while also increasing the value of your home.

Even if you’re planning to sell in the next year or so, you can get your money back through your property’s increased value. Estimates vary, but experts agree: a smart home is a profitable home.

Smart radiator valves

This is the next step, after you buy a smart thermostat. You can attach these smart valves – which typically cost £40 to £60 – to radiators in different rooms to customise your heating even further.

For instance, if you only use one or two rooms for most of the day – say, if you’re mainly in your home office while you’re working – you could keep that room warm, and the other rooms on a lower temperature.

It gives you more control, and opens up a whole new world of savings, as you and your smart thermostat can keep each room exactly how warm it needs to be at all times, for peak comfort and energy efficiency.

Summary

Smart thermostats give you control over your heating. However busy your life gets, you’ll never have to worry about forgetting to turn the heating off – or on – ever again. Getting one is a savvy way to make your life easier.

They also save you money, cut down your energy waste, and reduce your carbon footprint – plus, they rescue you from having to guesstimate which temperature will make you sufficiently warm, but also not use too much energy.

And smart thermostats are also great if you don’t want to go on a small trek every time you need to change the temperature.

If you own a home that doesn’t use storage heaters or a heat pump, we’d absolutely recommend getting a smart thermostat.

Josh Jackman Senior Writer

Josh is The Eco Experts’ main man for smart home technology, data-driven analysis, and boilers. If it can make your life better and help the environment, he’s on it.