Smart thermostats are a new bit of kit that originally just connected your heating system to the internet – letting you change the temperature or switch your heating off on your smartphone or other device when you're out and about, or with your computer. But since boiler plus is now a requirement of Part L, a smart thermostat is classed as one that offers automisation and optimisation not internet enabled control.
As boiler plus, see our separate blog about this, is now active this is a way to tick the box and comply. You can connect most smart thermostats to new boilers by using Opentherm, a protocol between the thermostat and the boiler. Like weather compensation this affects the temperatures the boiler operates at, effectively saving energy which in turn reduces gas bills.
Don’t worry if your boiler isn’t a new one, a smart thermostat may still be able to be installed and with the majority of them having a wireless option you needn’t worry about chasing walls, lifting flooring or running cables.
The cool feature of having a internet controlled smart thermostat is being able to control your heating with your phone – whether you're out and about, lounging on the couch or having a lie-in.
Other features vary by thermostat, but common ones include multi-room control, hot water control, 'geofencing' to track when you leave and enter your home, draught detection, safety and holiday modes to protect your pipes when you're not there, and feedback on your heating patterns.
‘Geofencing’ is one of the features some of these offer. Imagine an invisible border surrounding your home. When you’re ‘inside’ your considered to be “home”, so your thermostat will make things nice and comfy for you. When your outside that boundary, your thermostat senses this and it turn will control your heating either letting the temperature fall, so your not heating an empty space, or rise to warm it up for when your back.
Multi-room control is another feature which a lot of manufacturers are starting to offer. The original one was Honeywell with their ‘evo-home’. What it offers is the ability to make zones in your property without the upheaval of repiping the heating system. What you would do is fit the manufacturers smart thermostats to your radiators, these will then communicate with the hub and you can control each one separately or group some together allowing you total control over your heating. So for example you could have all the bedrooms as one zone, your towel radiators or bathroom radiators as another zone, your kitchen and dining room as two more zones. Affectively letting you choose what radiators you want on and when at what times and what temperatures.
Not every model will have all these features, but most are prevalent across different makes..
Here at BPH we are Nest Pro Installers and use this as our go to thermostat, although there are plenty of others on the market, prices vary from £50 for a basic one up to £250 depending on what you want. Multi room controls can cost a couple of thousand pound depending on the size of the property. The cheaper ones usually don’t have the ability to let you control it using your phone.