27 January 2016

Save money with a smart thermostat

As the temperature plummets, our heating bills inevitably rise as we battle to keep our homes warm and cosy.

However, by using a smart thermostat to manage your heating better, you may be able to keep costs down without feeling the chill. In fact, most major smart thermostat manufacturers claim that the devices can cut energy bills by a significant sum.

British Gas's Hive claims it can save you around £150 a year, while Tado promises savings of up to 31% a year and Netatmo* suggests its smart technology can cut energy usage by an impressive 37%.

How do smart thermostats work?

Put simply, smart thermostats are devices which can switch your heating on or off remotely via the web, using your smartphone or tablet, allowing you a greater degree of control and ensuring you’re not wasting energy by having the heating on unnecessarily.

You can create heating schedules based on your family’s regular routines and easily make any adjustments with a few clicks. Working late? Use your smartphone to change your settings and turn your heating on later than usual so you’re not warming an empty house.

Some smart thermostats go a step further. For example, the Google Nest monitors your heating patterns and uses them to start regulating the temperature accordingly. It also makes use of motion sensors to identify when the house is empty and doesn’t need heating, and it uses weather information from the web to make adjustments to your heating as the weather gets warmer or colder.

Tado pairs with its app on your smartphone to track your location and then raises the temperature ready for when you get home.

Most smart thermostats also display your real-time energy consumption, helping you see where your money goes and budget better.

Is a smart thermostat right for you?

While smart thermostat providers may make some pretty impressive claims about the sums you can save on your energy bills, it’s important to remember that how much you save will depend on your heating habits before you started using the smart thermostat.

According to Which?, most companies base their estimates of how much people will save on households who had their heating set to maintain a constant temperature throughout the day. If you already turn your heating off when you’re not in the house then your savings are likely to be less significant.

You may also find that your savings aren’t as high as you’d hoped if you:

  • are quite forgetful: if you don’t use the app to switch your heating on and off as needed, you won’t see any savings.
  • aren’t very tech-savvy: to get the most out of a smart thermostat you need to be able to use the smartphone or tablet app.
  • move every few years: if you move house regularly you may not stay in your property long enough to recoup the cost of buying and installing a smart thermostat.

However, if you typically set your heating to a regular temperature at the start of winter, you could see your bills fall by a noticeable amount by using a smart thermostat to track and measure your energy usage.

To get the most out of a smart thermostat, it’s also worth taking other steps to reduce your energy bills, like making sure your home is properly insulated and comparing deals to ensure you’re on the best gas and electricity tariffs for you.

Choosing the best smart thermostat

If you’ve decided to invest in a smart thermostat, there are plenty of options to choose from, including offerings from energy providers such as British Gas and tech companies like Google.

Prices and features vary so it’s worth doing your research and finding the thermostat that works best for you. For example, if you live in a large property, the Honeywell Evohome, which allows you to heat specific ‘zones’ as needed may have the biggest impact on your bills, while Hive might suit households who have a regular routine and Nest may be suitable if your plans change from day to day.

Making the most of your energy savings

However much you save using a smart thermostat, make sure you put the extra cash to good use. If you leave it in your bills account you may find that it just gets swallowed up by other expenses.

Moving any cash you save into another account means you can easily see how much your bills are falling over the months, and give you the opportunity to put the money to good use.

Why not invest in making your home more energy efficient, so you save even more on your bills? Or perhaps you could use the cash to pay for a trip somewhere warmer.

Our Mobile banking app’s Impulse Saver feature makes it easy to transfer small amounts into your savings account, without even having to log in. You need to be registered for Internet banking to use this app.

Take a look at our range of savings products

*Source: Netatmo users, between November 2014 to March 2015.

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