If you're anything like me, you have your central heating set to the same schedule every day. It comes on at about 6 am, goes off at 8 am and the comes on again at 4 to get the house warm for when everyone arrives back from work and school.
At the weekends, it's the same. However we have one of those 'Advance' buttons that works like a kind of time shift for central heating. What this little beut does is turn the heat on when you press it and turns it off when the timer says so, usually much later on in the day.
The downside to this is that on a Saturday, I knock the advance button at 10 am (just as it's going chilly), and it stays on until about 9 pm at night, whether we're in the house or not.
On any given Saturday or Sunday, we're likely to go out for at least a few hours during the day, and sometimes much longer, which means our heating is warming an empty house. Sure, the guinea pigs are toasty, but that's a lot of money to pay to keep rodents happy.
Energy prices keep going up, too. And, a complete oil price crash withstanding, they're likely to rise significantly in the next decade, and all the while the same scenario is played out across the nation. Empty homes being heated for no good reason.
Of course, when we remember to, one of us will run upstairs and knock the heating off, but then we face the issue of coming home to a cold house. The dilemma!!!
The solution? The smart thermostat.
There are a couple available, but in the UK, the most common at the moment is the Nest.
like all good bits of modern technology, they work without you having to do anything. It simply senses how you use your heating, and it knows when you leave the house. But it can also be remote controlled. So, let's play out a typical scenario and see how these smart devices can help.
No intelligent thermostat
You wake up on a Saturday to a warm house; all is good. You hit the advance button on your heating but at around midday, you decide to go out.
While you're out, your house will be nice and toasty. You return home to a lovely warm house at 8 pm and realise you've been heating it for eight hours for no reason whatsoever.
Clever thermostat in place
After a week of use, your thermostat has got used to you. It knows when you go out when you come in, and it knows when the house is quiet. Spooky, eh?
You get up on Saturday, and the house is warm, you go out at Midday.
This time, however, the thermostat realises you've left. Rather than getting sad, it gets busy by reducing the temperature of the house and, therefore, reducing the amount of fuel being burned. It also updates the app on your phone which tells you that the house is now down to a more moderate 16 degrees.
It's time to go home. You pay the bill at your restaurant and open up the app. You tell it to knock the temperature up to 22 degrees, and you head home.
No waste and a warm home when you need it.
Although there are only a few of these devices around at the moment, there's no doubt that more will be hitting the market very soon. Even so, the ones that are available, such as the Nest and Hive are quite mature and work well, and the prices are quite keen.
Whether you'll make your money back through saving energy is another matter, the ROI for these devices hasn't really been tested yet, but as we all strive for greater efficiency, it's surely a market to watch.