Going further with energy saving, part 3: Making your thermostat work for you

Hello :wave: Miriam from team Bulb here, with some more energy saving advice for you. Today I’m going to be talking about thermostats. :timer_clock:

Most homes in the UK have a thermostat which controls the central heating. There are lots of different types, but they all follow the same basic principles. These heating controls are there to keep your home comfortable by making sure your radiators are only on when you need them to be.

First, you set a target temperature for your home. Then, the thermostat works by ensuring that whenever that temperature is reached, your heating system turns off automatically. When the temperature dips down, it instructs the heaters to kick in again, keeping your home nice and warm. 21.1°C is the UK average, but some people may prefer a cooler home or need more heating. Research from The Energy Saving Trust shows that turning your thermostat down by just 1°C can save you as much as £55 per year.

I find it much easier to use my thermostat than adjust the radiators myself, as I often find that I leave them on for too long, letting my flat go from uncomfortably cool to uncomfortably hot. :hot_face:

There are 3 broad categories of thermostat: manual, programmable and smart. In this post, I won’t go into detail on how to set each of these up but I will be giving some tips. You may also have a programmable timer directly on your boiler, but today I’ll just cover room thermostats.

Manual thermostats

Manual thermostats are the most basic - these might just look like a dial on the wall, or a screen with only one or two buttons. They can’t be set in advance, but can still be useful if you remember to use them often enough. This is the kind of heating control I have in my flat.

Basically, all this allows you to do is set a constant temperature for your home. So, if I set my thermostat to 21°C, it will instruct the central heating to run until that temperature is reached. Then, it will turn off automatically, and only fire up again once the temperature dips too low.

With a manual thermostat like this, you don’t have any control over the heating when you’re asleep or if you decide to go out. Personally, I always try to remember to decrease the temperature before I go to bed at night, and if I know I’m going out for a full day or more.

I set the thermostat at 14°C rather than turning it off completely, so that if it gets really cold the heating will kick in for a while. This keeps the flat protected against damp and ensures that it’s not absolutely freezing when we wake up in the morning! :snowman_with_snow:

Programmable thermostats

Programmable thermostats let you set different temperatures in advance. Depending on the thermostat, you may be able to:

  • Set a daily schedule
  • Set a weekday and a weekend schedule
  • Set a different schedule for every day of the week.

These thermostats can sometimes be tricky to use. So it’s worth looking up your specific make and model online to find instructions on how to adjust the settings.

Once you’ve got the hang of it, programmable thermostats can be really useful as you don’t have to remember to lower the heating every night, or when you leave the house. If you work in an office from 9am to 5pm, you could make sure your home is nice and warm by the time you wake up in the morning, but turn the heating off until you come home every day.

Smart thermostats

Smart thermostats take this even further, by letting you control your heating from your phone and tracking your usage. They use this data to learn about your habits, so they can become more accurate over time. This allows them to automatically keep your heating usage at a minimum without you having to change the settings.

Some of them also use your phone’s location to check when you leave the house and turn your heating off. Then, depending on how close you are to home, they’ll turn it on in advance to make sure the house is warm by the time you get in. Smart!

These smart thermostats can definitely save a lot of money in the long run (up to 31% of your heating bills), but they do have a higher upfront cost. That’s why we’ve partnered with tado to offer 35% off smart thermostats for all our Bulb members.

Choosing what’s right for you

If your routine stays the same week on week, it may not be worth investing in a smart thermostat. But if your work hours vary, or you are in and out of the house a lot, you could find it saves you money in the long run.

You may also find that your thermostat isn’t always accurate - especially if it’s located in a particularly warm or cold room. Many smart thermostats will allow you to heat different rooms to different temperatures, which may be useful depending on how your home is built and where you spend your time.

Does anyone have experience of switching to a smart thermostat? If so, do you think it was worth the investment? :bulb: