Smart heating system

Think the OP was talking about fully intelligent controls. Pretty sure Nest is just a clever Thermostat.

Sad that the government are throwing money at heat pumps, when far more CO2 could be saved helping people understand heating controls and making them cheaper.

Oh really, I have a family friend who was raving about his Nest system. Your Honeywell system does sound much better.

7000 kwh a year for a three bed is really good compared to national averages. I think I will do some more research on Honeywell now as reducing my gas consumption where possible is quite important to me.

Hi Noah. As you say, only worth it if you intend staying put for a while!

@Noah_at_Bulb I had Nest before and I liked the simplicity of it. In fact I had 2 nest thermostats ready to install at my new house but due to the issue described earlier I went for a more room by room option as Nest would have had the same issue for me as the builder’s system ( sun heating the thermostat directly)

Honeywell or Tado will achieve a more uniform temperature around the house with no cold or hot spots. Honeywell looks more fancier and comes from an established supplier but Tado is cheaper and has much the same functionality. Both systems have their issues from what I read online but for me it has been flawless.

Only real issue I had was with the installer trying to understand how my heating and hot water was configured but Tado support desk called him up and explained to him exactly how to do it.

@Noah_at_Bulb

And to be fair, the low heating consumption wasn’t just as a result of the Honeywell System. Oversized radiators and low boiler temp, insulated suspended floor, lagged CH pipes, large SW facing glass panels all contributed.

Oh and that evil thing, a log burner.

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It is still really good consumption levels.

It will be really interesting to see how this space evolves over the next 5 years. Recently, I’ve been diving into my Garmin Connect data which is changing the way I run. It would be really cool to have a version of Samsung Smartthings attached to every electrical device in the house to help change my energy habits, in the same way.

I’ve also seen a few articles about the role of AI in the future of the smart home and I think the potential of this is huuuge.

I do always try and change by behavioural habits to make my home more energy efficient but when you can see results broken up in different ways with data it is so satisfying.

Thanks folks. Great info to have.

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Anyone got a hive system? it comes to £100 pounds cheaper for all my rads + the thermostat

@oottheback

I currently have a Tado system in a 3 bed town house. 1 thermostat, 1 boiler extension kit, and 9 radiator thermostats. In a previous property I had a Hive system (1 thermostat only). My experience on both is generally good and I have data proving that I’ve seen cost savings, in fact my previous experience of Hive gave me the impetus to install Tado in our new home.

The Hive system was used in a flat and we moved the thermostat from room to room. We went from a £30 bill per month for gas (before) to an average of £9 per month (after). At the time I spent around £180 on the Hive installation so it took less than a year to cover my costs and save more than I’d spent. We also used gas for cooking on the hob.

The Tado system was installed about 9 months after moving into our house. This was a much bigger expense so we monitored our current gas usage closely for those months and rolled out the Tado system over the following 3 months as we saw its impacts. Total system cost was around £700 and our bills went from £60 per month on gas to around £15 per month on gas. As before we have a gas hob for cooking. Even with the additional spend on batteries (the thermostats last anywhere from 9-18 months depending on distance to its bridge unit) we covered our costs of install in less than 18 months. We have been in our house for over 3.5 years now so are saving around £500 per year on gas alone.

System recommendation wise, I really can’t comment. Both did exactly what they said they would do so it comes down to how you want to integrate it into your home. I’m an avid Apple HomeKit proponent and user so I always look into devices that will secure themselves into this framework, but everyone has a different use case and objective. I don’t know much about the advances on the Hive side as it was really only capable of simple control at the time I used it 5/6 years ago, but the location based control for Tado has been a major cost saver for us as it shuts down all the heating automatically (with frost protection) if no-one is at home regardless of the time of year.

Installation wise I was able to install Tado onto my boiler myself using their excellent online instructions BUT I did watch how the Hive was installed by the engineer that came out to install it so that gave me additional confidence I could do it myself. The radiator thermostats are simple to install.

@Noah_at_Bulb

Depending on your preferred smart home platform/framework there are a number of options available to you where you can control the radiators with thermostats but not the boiler. You can then take the radiator thermostats with you when you move from place to place.

Just make sure that at least one radiator is not turned off or controlled from a thermostat, usually the one where the boiler thermostat is, so that you don’t kill the boiler by it not having an outlet for its heat when it’s on!

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Hi @naiyas, thanks for sharing your experience with the two different smart thermostat systems. While I’m not surprised that you’ve been able to reduce your bills with these installed, I am really impressed by the amount you’ve been able to decrease your usage.

Did you find that before you had the Hive in the flat and the Tado system in your house, you weren’t particularly monitoring usage so would often leave the heating on when it wasn’t needed, as it sounds like having awareness and more control has led to some significant changes in your energy usage behaviour?

Does the Tado allow a level of control that Hive doesn’t, or is it just more expensive because of the number of thermostats you now have?

@Matthew_W_at_Bulb

I think it was a mixture of things.

In the flat, the thermostat (pre Hive) was in the hallway where there was never a radiator, the living space was south facing, and the bedrooms north facing. The timer at that time was already very closely tied to when we were in/out so we did what we could with the “non-smart” methods available. Even with Hive it was a pain to get the right temperatures in each room, mainly because of how bad manual thermostatic valves are - who the hell knows what the numbers 0-5 mean beyond off and on? The incremental savings post a single Hive thermostat didn’t justify replacing these though.

House wise was different. With multiple floors and far more rooms, all with different radiator sizes and insulation impacts the variations were large. The pre-Tado thermostat was on the ground floor in the hallway, as is normally the case - basically the worst location to get top floor temperatures right, even when turned right down. Again, the manual thermostatic valves, IMO, are a complete and utter waste of time as no matter what combination of settings for the timer, valves and main thermostat resulted in a consistently comfortable setting across all of the rooms. We burnt through a lot of gas trying and failing until we decided to build out the Tado system. Complete temperature control across all radiators in all rooms with full control of the boiler means we can set each rooms comfort profile exactly as needed for any time of the day. And when everyone is out fo the house the heating switches off automatically. It really does become set it and forget it.

We could probably squeeze a couple fo extra pounds of savings a month out in winter by being quicker at turning a room or two off if they aren’t needed (guest/study for example) but we have bigger savings available elsewhere that we’re focussing on right now. As you say, these are now very much data driven investments so I do think that saving energy/money is all about making data available to people.

In my view this is “historic data” from a multitude of sources so that context can be achieved - as I’ve said elsewhere on here I don’t need telling I’m using energy when watching TV, having a shower, cooking, etc in real time. It’s not helpful. What I need is information about when and for how long I use this level of energy for over a long period of time in order to identify patterns, be they behaviour related or some other external factor (faulty white goods for example).

Regarding the comparison question, I’ve not used Hive now for 4 years so I don’t know what the differences are as I’m sure Hive has advanced a lot over the last 4 years. The price differential for me was exactly as you describe - Hive I just had boiler control and a single thermostat… Tado I had 9 radiator thermostats in addition.

Hope that helps!

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Thanks for the level of detail in your response @naiyas. We may need to introduce a ‘long reads’ feature for Bulb Community :thinking:

The location of a centralised thermostat is a really important point to raise actually, just thinking about my only family home (not much variance at my flat), the temperature differs significantly at the front and back at the house and so has differing energy demands. I definitely agree with you on the 1-5 system on adjustable dials on radiators too. You’d hope a heating system would have more nuanced control than a toaster.

Given that the direction of forward-thinking suppliers will be towards energy management, rather than merely just supply (I’m thinking domestic generation, EV chargers, smart appliances and energy control), it’s really cool to have this case study of sorts that shows how the Tado system allows you greater control and this has demonstrably led to savings.

In terms of seeing live usage data, people who check their IHD when they remember to, or in passing may notice the same spike at a certain time of day and having the numbers in front of them may nudge them to think about reducing usage. I appreciate this is crude compared to your example, but I’m thinking of people who may not proactively think about saving energy, or like myself are renting, so unlikely to buy a home system as complex as you’ve described.

It certainly did help, thanks again for such a detailed reply :+1:t2:

I have the Honeywell Evohome system which comprises of a central hub/controller and radiator controls. Like the Tado system, the radiator controls can call for heat from the boiler allowing you to accurately heat each room.
I have the system set up to heat individual rooms at different times. The OH likes to be very warm, so the schedule reflects this. Some of the routine includes not heating the living room in the morning as we don’t go in there, likewise with the guest bedroom. If I am working from home, I can just heat my office without needing to heat the rest of the house. As the OH likes to be so warm, we have a gentle heat setting throughout the night in our bedroom too.

I haven’t got exact figures to show the investment payback time, as we installed the system within weeks of moving in - but I would estimate that it repaid itself in less than 18 months.

The likes of Nest are just internet connected thermostats, which won’t really help much over a well set up traditional thermostat&timer unit.

I too have the Honeywell System. I have to say, it doesn’t suit someone that isn’t prepared to spend the time thinking about heating schedules.

For me, with a South West facing house with a large glass area it’s brilliant. It means I can keep the radiators off in the bedrooms unless it’s really cold and still have the towel rail on sometimes. I’m never too hot or cold.

It’s a case of once you have the system, you wouldn’t want to do without it. You’re watching TV and need a boost, just adjust the temperature and it will revert back to the time schedule settings afterwards.

I’ve always had the system, so no idea of the savings. I have a 3 bedroomed 1930’s semi, and my consumption is about 6,000kw a year, including a hob and shower. About £200. This seems to be way less than average.

On a final note. Honeywell now do a cheaper kit (Radiator Valves can only be controlled remotely) for £395. (Can control 6 radiators).

It staggers me the general apathy about energy consumption. Generally everywhere I go I see systems with no controllers at all, pipes not lagged, hopeless manual controls, halogen light bulbs. Just saying…

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Hi @antnee.m and welcome to Bulb Community. Thanks as well to @PaulMC12345 for your thoughts on the Honeywell system and how it’s worked for you.

In terms of value against the initial outlay, it seems fair unanimous so far that these are worth the investment, especially when you consider the added comfort on top of the financial saving on your energy bills.

I can imagine this level of control will have been especially useful during work from home, but off the back of the recent heatwave, I crave cold rooms at all times at the moment!

6000kwh is a little lower than average for the property size you’ve mentioned, but this would come to more than £200, unless you meant you’re spending around £200 less than the average property?

It’s good to know there’s a more affordable range available, as the tools to reduce usage and energy bills should be accessible to as many people as possible. Having not lived anywhere with a similar system myself, this has made me much more likely to invest in one when I do eventually buy.

6,000 kwh x 3.3p = £200

My gas consumption is roughly 4000Kw pa, with a similar 3-bed semi (only built in the late 40s) - but I do live alone, and as I don’t like to be over-warm, my Nest thermostat is set quite low (it’s in the hall, so 16 when I’m home [enough to have the living room at about 20]).

I don’t have anything clever beyond the Nest (and that’s not allowed on the internet), and it manages a simple combi boiler with a single circuit for all the radiators in the house (they’re quite old too). The Nest was fitted when I had to replace the boiler 4 years ago.

It sounds like I could probably cut the consumption quite a bit by fitting out the house with clever stuff like yours, but when the total annual bill on gas is ~£200pa, it’s probably quite a long payback.

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I could probably get to 4,000 kwh but my other half would leave me. I agree, you should stick to what you have. That’s an amazingly low consumption.

I have been doing a little research on this.

I have a Worcester Bosch boiler and it seems there are various generations of heating control systems. The cheap and cheerful mechanical timer gave way to a thermostat connected by wire or radio to one room, usually in the hallway. That involves just changing out the mechanical timer module with a remote module. Later versions of remote modules handle various kinds of schedules, the idea is you configure it so the heating comes on to suit your pattern of use…it rather presumes you know what that is and it is regular. There are also third party modules from companies like Solus.

However, these things are not particularly smart, they are fixed to monitoring the temperature in one room. There is no app, no web page and no control over individual radiators to set the temperature in different rooms.

They do have a range of smart controls that do this, Easycontrol. They are very snazzy. However, there is a big catch. Don’t expect it to work your boiler if it is more than a couple of years old. Mine is 10 years old and I can’t justify the expense of swapping it out.

There are third party controllers and I looked at Tado. It looks nice, but there is a catch there as a well. It is one of those ‘Cloud’ services. You have to register with their website, agree to pay a monthly service charge and then you get access to a web page that tells you how much energy you use and allows you to configure it to your needs. They also have an ‘app’ for your smartphone that allows you to control your heating system remotely. This is very smart, it will detect when you leave the home and switch off the heating accordingly. If there are other members of your house hold, it can also monitor their movements through their smartphone.

Very convenient, but I feel very uncomfortable about being monitored in this way and I don’t much care to add another direct debit to my monthly outgoings.

Moreover, I notice that these systems do not integrate with the boiler controls in a very sophisticated manner. They simply switch the boiler on and off and allow you to set the temperature of the radiator thermostats. The Worcester Bosch Easycontrol system is rather clever than that, it can moderate the water flow from the boiler through the radiators to achieve a target temperature. Third party solutions just switch the boiler on and off so the rads get hot, it switches off, the rads cool down, then the boiler switches on again. On off, on off, on off. The radiator thermostats also have a gotcha. They thermometer is built into the mechanism and so is exposed to the heat of the radiator and any curtains of obstructions to airflow will make them think it is hotter than it actually is in the room. For a radiator to set the right temperature, it needs to be monitoring the room temperature on wall somewhere with good air circulation.

There are third party systems that do integrate closely with boiler controls and there is an open standard for new boilers like Opentherm. But if you already have a boiler it seems to be a case of opting for one of these simple boiler on-off systems with an ‘app’ and and integration with Alexa or some other voice activated gadget. These seem all smoke and mirrors.

I am now looking at the Drayton-Wiser system,which has an on off controller and remote controlled radiator valves, but without the big brother aspect of the Tado system. I am experimenting with the Homeassistant home automation system and have cheap temperature sensors in all my rooms. So maybe I can do something with that, at least switch of the rads I don’t need to be on.

Quite frankly I very unimpressed by boiler and heating controls and the state of the market. Fine if you are installing a new boiler, with the latest controls and can afford the several thousand pounds that will involve. But that investment has to be considered in the light of the governments intention to phase out gas boiler installations in the next few years.

I appreciate that if you have large home and you have big bills to contend with right now, then one of these solutions may work for you.