Smart Energy Solutions in the UK
If, like us, you are sick and tired of hearing that annoying Hive jingle on the radio or television, you may well be interested to know who is actually winning the war when it comes to this new generation of energy management devices. You may also have read our review of Google Nest back in early April, which has a number of benefits for British households but there are actually a few more products on the market. So, which of these devices should you be using in your home or even at your place of work, if any?
Whether you choose to embrace smart technology or not, there is no getting away from the fact that it is going to revolutionise the way we heat our homes and even businesses. Dated thermostats and dials are not only somewhat of any eyesore, but they are very one dimensional in the way that they control your heating. Indeed, many of us over the years will have simply ramped up the heat when we were cold and turned it off when we got too warm, new energy management systems have made this a thing of the past and we will all be better off (and richer) for it.
Well over half of the energy we consume in the home is for central heating so it makes sense to take advantage of the fantastic technology we have available to us and streamline this as much as possible. But, as with anything these days, we have a myriad of devices and brands to choose from which can make choosing your smart thermostats a bit of a minefield. True to form, the energy team here at Love Energy Savings have analysed just what’s going on so you can make an informed decision about the best plan of action for your home or office. Please note, these are NOT smart meters, but home automation systems. They are smart as they are operated via your tablet, computer or smartphone - go to our Guide to Smart Meters for more information regarding these devices.
Google grabbed the headlines at the start of 2014 when they purchased Nest Labs, a company that specialises in home automation and manufactures devices such as thermostats and even smoke detectors. The foray by the search engine specialists into the smart energy market was seen as shrewd and the technology had even been developed by the man who invented the iPod, Tony Fadell. At $3.2 bn, the purchase was hardly cheap but still a drop in the ocean for one of the richest companies on the planet today.
The device and all of its advantages can be found in the recent Love Energy Savings review, but it was not actually the first piece of equipment of its kind to be released here in the United Kingdom. Hive from British Gas has been available since September of last year, which also allows the user to control their heating from their smartphone.
Now, we are impartial but the Nest certainly seems to have taken the concept of smart energy management that bit further than the rest of the pack. This device actually learns your habits and adjusts you heating accordingly in order to save you money and also achieve that optimum temperature at all times. By adjusting the thermostat whenever it becomes to cool or too warm, Nest will gradually learn what it just right and eventually, the user should not have to do a thing. Add to this this the fact that is can work out when the house it empty and automatically shut down if there is a leak, and you have some very clever stuff at your disposal!
Nest has teamed up with nPower and you can get your hands on one of these ingenious pieces of kit from a wide range of destinations such as B&Q. Amazon, John Lewis and of course, their own website.
Hive from British Gas
Whether you love or hate having the annoying tune from their advertising campaign rammed down your throat at every opportunity or not, the value of Hive from British Gas cannot really be ignored. It puts complete control into the hands of the user and this can be accurately adjusted from a laptop, desktop, tablet or smartphone via their Active Heating System. British Gas customers can also set a schedule for certain days of the week which can be easily adjusted at the press of the button via their app.
Although Hive and British Gas are separate entities, they work together very well which has allowed this approach to smart energy management to get a head start over its competition. The fact that British Gas already has a huge captive audience in its customer base has inevitably helped significantly and has provided trust from customers to allow technicians to come and install the hardware at their homes. British Gas have also recently confirmed that they will be looking to add more intelligent features to Hive as soon as possible.
PassivSystems is not dissimilar to the Nest, but works on a slightly different premise. Although this device looks to offer a certain amount of automation to your heating, it does not monitor your movements or try to predict your habits. Instead, PassivSystems tries to assess environment and physical factors involved with central heating.
One for the techies out there, the Passiv appliance uses a complex set of algorithms to learn how your building responds to external factors like the weather. It will then see how equipment in your home affects things and essentially, how long it takes to heat your home. It will then deliver the best temperature and deliver it in the most cost effective and prudent way possible. You know all those futuristic cartoons and sci-fis with fancy digital dials and clever computers, well this is the nearest things we have at present, and it’s impressive to say the least.
PassivSystems have put all of their research and development resource into ensuring this smart energy device performs perfectly and at minimum cost. Users pay a monthly subscription to use this device and will then get the benefit of any updates and new features that are developed on an ongoing basis. They are currently in negotiations with a number of suppliers and retailers with a view to a partnership, so watch this space and Love Energy Savings will be on hand with any updates regarding this and how it may affect your home energy bills.
Of all the smart energy management systems that we have reviewed here at Love Energy Savings, this is perhaps the lowest maintenance. There is no user interactivity required and the Tado°system works like the Nest in the fact that it changes the temperature based your daily routine and behaviour. This device is more of a personal heating assistance for the home or office, as it works out where you are in the building and set the heat based on that.
The clever bit when it comes to the Tado° is that it used the location data from your mobile phone to work out when the building is empty and duly turns everything off. When you embark on your journey home, yep you guessed it, the device will start to heat your home to you arrive to a perfect temperature. Perfect for the winter months or if you have been out playing sport and want a deep and bubbly! The Tado° also takes into account the weather forecast and the way your house has been built when deciding how and when to heat your property.
The Tado° can be bought outright for around £250 or you can choose to rent the smart energy device for £6.99 a month. The makers believe that the installation of this solution can bring your heating costs down by more than a quarter but how much truth there is in that, remains to be seen.
So, there you have it, the Love Energy Savings Guide to Smart Energy Solutions. As you can see, there are some seriously nifty pieces of kit on the market at present if you decide that smart energy management is the way forward for your home or business, each with their own pros and cons. As always, we are completely impartial and can see the benefits of all of these thermostats but would love to hear what you think!
If you have had any experiences with any of the smart energy solutions mentioned in this Energy Guide then please let us know. You can email us, call 0800 988 8375 or send us a tweet at @LoveEnergySavin.
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