Where boiler controls help you to boost energy-efficiency at the heat source, heating controls give you greater sway over when – and at what temperature – your overall home is warm.
They can be as simple as a basic thermostat in the hallway, or as slick as a full suite of super-smart tech. Whatever you choose, they help you keep your home comfortably warm without over-heating. And that should help you use less energy and lower your bills. So, what are your options?
1. Room thermostat
The way they work is simple – a thermometer inside gauges how warm or cool the room is, then switches your central heating on or off to keep your home at the temperature you’ve set. If you’ve got one of these already, it might be fixed to the wall, most likely in your hallway. Or it could be a small freestanding unit that you can move around.
As you’d expect, this lets you create a heating schedule that suits your daily routine. For example, with the average house taking 30 minutes to heat up, you can set the heating to come on half an hour before you rise (and similarly 30 minutes before you’re back from work/school/a day out). You might typically place it on the wall near your boiler, or have one built in as part of your room thermostat; most have digital screens to make it easy to set times.
3. Thermostatic radiator valves (TRVs)
These little cylindrical controls sit next to your radiator, sense the room temperature, and – if it’s too warm – adjust the flow of hot water into the radiator accordingly. They can stop you overheating individual rooms, so you only use the energy you need. You can also set them to suit each room. For example, if you’re working from home, you might want less heat in your bedroom but more in your kitchen. Try this Energy Saving Trust guide for tips on getting the most from your TRVs.
4. Smart heating controls
They do everything that the above conventional heating controls do, and much more. They’re ‘smart’ because – as well as being connected to the internet by smart phone or tablet – some controls can even ‘learn’ your habits and adjust your heating accordingly. (Note they’re unrelated to any smart meters you may have, which simply tell your energy supplier how much gas or electricity you use.)
Standard smart controls include being able to easily set your heating, change room temperatures or turn off hot water with a swipe of your phone – no matter where you are.
There are more advanced features too. These include being able to track your smartphone and switch on the heating when you’re on your way home from work; detecting open windows (and turning the thermostat down or heating off); or getting hot water ready for the time you’re most likely to take a shower.