Despite the vast improvements in many home technologies (1080p HDTVs, 4G smartphones, ultra-thin tablets and ecobubble washing machines), central heating systems are often outdated and rigidly inefficient.
In cold weather, our homes might be warm, but because a typical heating system is either switched ‘on’ or ‘off’, we’re often wasting money heating rooms we don’t use or forgetting to turn the heating off when we’re out. It’s not exactly smart.
Fortunately, home automation systems are catching up. Google’s wireless Nest thermostat not only enables you to control your heating via a smartphone app, but it learns your schedule and what temperatures you like, turning itself on when you come home and off when you’re out.
The Heat Genius system is slightly different. With a Heat Genius boiler controller installed and a Heat Genius hub plugged into your Wi-Fi router, you can control your heating like Nest, Hive and Tado using an iOS or Android app. But add wireless Thermostatic Radiator Valves (TRVs) to your radiators and the Heat Genius system can control each one individually, enabling you to ‘zone’ your heating room by room.
“Most heating systems warm houses to an overall temperature,” says Alasdair Woodbridge, one of the founders of Heat Genius. But, as Alasdair explains, it’s not an efficient way to heat a home – radiators come on in unused rooms; if some rooms struggle to reach the set temperature, other rooms overheat.
“What is happening is that we just all want the rooms to be a different temperatures depending on what we are doing. The great thing about ‘zoning’ your home properly is that you can have just the temperature that you want in every room.”
With wirelessly controlled TRVs, each room can have its own heating schedule and its own unique temperature settings, saving you energy and money as you heat only the rooms that you use. Combine the TRVs with wireless PIR movement/temperature sensors and the system gets even smarter. It can not only detect when you’re at home, but it knows which room you’re in, adjusting the heating to suit the occupancy.
Heat Genius also incorporates smart plugs into its wireless mesh network, enabling you to turn on/off devices (like an electric fire or a lamp) with the same ease. It’s all controlled via the app or via the web, giving you a whole-house view of your system.
The important factor to consider here is that smart heating solutions like Heat Genius, Nest, Tado and Hive can be retrofitted to most houses – only the new boiler controller requires a professional installation and, in some cases, you can even install that yourself.
You’re not changing your heating system, just the way that that system is managed, potentially making your home more energy efficient and, in the long-term, cheaper to run.