Take your home's temperature with a smart thermometer

a gas hob with a blue flame, radiating heat
You could be cooking on gas with smart home technology
"It's great to see energy companies pushing new technology forward, which may help consumers reduce their energy bills. However I do fear that this new technology isn't cheap" Jeremy Cryer, Gocompare.com
  • | by Emily Bater

Smart home technology is coming to Britain - and it could cut your energy bills.

But the chance to reduce your bills depends on whether you buy into the hype surrounding smart thermostats, which have been coming to the UK in recent months - the latest is Nest, which went on sale on 3 April across the UK.

Smart thermostats connect wirelessly to your boiler and can be controlled via a smartphone app. You're then able to turn your heating on or off remotely and adjust the temperature to your liking.

Hive Active Heating, a British Gas product, has been providing smart energy since September last year and is now in 50,000 homes, according to the company.

Nest is seemingly different to Hive and other competitors in it learns your daily routine and adjust the temperature accordingly, making your home connected - the next wave of smart devices are aiming to make your home life easier and your bank manager happier, it seems.

For such a new market there are already several contenders - Nest and Hive are joined by Honeywell, which has a multi-room system, and Tado, a German brand.

Despite the cross over in terminology, smart thermostats are not the same as Smart meters, which record a property's exact energy usage relay it to the energy provider, without the need for meter readings and estimated bills. The roll-out of smart meters will start in 2015 and they are expected to be in all homes by 2020.

But you have to speculate to accumulate - these devices don't come cheap. Nest costs £249 including installation while Hive comes in at £199. Nest claims its US customers save an average 20% on their heating bill, but our incomparable climes mean that customers will want to know how long it'll take for them to recoup their initial investment.

Nest has joined up with Npower to market its device in the UK, but with the current reputation of the big six and the fact that more consumers looking into alternatives, this could prove a mistake.

But how much do we really want yet another gadget in our homes? Smart thermometers may have taken off in the US, but are they destined to join the ranks of technology flops that have come to our shores?

"Any innovation in the energy market is great news for consumers," says Gocompare.com's energy sage Jeremy Cryer.

"More and more people are monitoring their energy use closely and this advance into smart thermometers will hopefully lessen the anxiety many customers feel when thinking about their energy usage.

"It's great to see energy companies pushing new technology forward, which may help consumers reduce their energy bills. However I do fear that this new technology isn't cheap.

"At £150-£200, many customers won't be able to afford it, particularly as this is something consumers will be investigating to help them reduce their expenditure on energy - this initial outlay may be a little too much for them to justify.

"It will be interesting to see how many people do make use of smart thermometer. Having yet another device to monitor in the home may seem unnecessary and could put many off but it remains to be seen how these devices will affect energy usage."

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