All unit costs and calculations correct at the time of publication.

Smart heating controls and radiator valves: what do they do and are they worth getting?

Many people will control their central heating by using a simple timer, combined with a thermostat, to set the temperature they desire throughout their house. 

The downside with such a system is that you end up paying to heat rooms that you aren’t using, and you won’t always be at home at the times when the heating is set to come on.

So these basic controls, while useful, are fairly crude. This means you waste energy, unnecessarily adding to your bills, as well as your home’s impact on the environment.

But in recent years there have been technological leaps which enable people to take better control of the heating in their homes, without even necessarily upgrading their boiler (although that’s often a good idea). 

The options

There are broadly two main types of system to choose from if you want to move on from a simple thermostat and timer and take better control of how you heat your home: standalone smart heating controls and smart radiator valves, although the two are often combined.

Individual smart thermostats replace your existing system, allowing you to have greater control over your home heating. Brands such as Nest and Hive are among the better known brands, although others such as Tado and Genius Hub are giving them a run for their money.

At their most basic, smart heating controls take one single reading for your home. You can access and control your heating smart thermostat on the move using an app on your smartphone.

Basic smart heating controls don’t fix all of your problems though, as with one smart thermostat, you’ll still only be able to set one temperature for your whole home, so rooms that needn’t be warmed up will continue to be so.

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Taking control of each room

Adding smart radiator valves can help you solve this problem as they enable you to control the temperature in each room. These gadgets fit onto your thermostatic radiator valves or TRVs (the common devices many people have on the ends of their radiators, with numbers round the side, that can be manually set to the right temperature). You don’t need fancy modern radiators, as smart radiator valves tend to work with all standard radiators.

Once you combine a smart thermostat with individual radiator controls, you can choose and control temperatures for individual rooms in your house. You can then manage them on an app or home display screen, depending on which brand you opt for.

These smart heating controls are becoming increasingly sophisticated.  For example, many can now be controlled by voice commands using Alexa, Siri or Google. Some systems, such as Tado, use geofencing via smartphones to detect when no one is home, and turn off the heating – and then turn it back on again when someone returns. 

If you’re considering buying a smart thermostat, perhaps combined with thermostatic radiator valves, then Trusted Reviews has recently tested some of the best in the market, providing suggestions of the best picks for ease of installation, price and functionality.

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Smart heating controls can save you money in the long term and reduce your impact on the environment. According to Energy Saving Trust, those savings could, on average, amount to £60 and 310kg of carbon dioxide each year (based on installing and correctly using a programmer, room thermostat and thermostatic radiator valves).

So smart technology is definitely worth considering if you want to take better control of your heating and bills. But before you start splashing your cash, you should take advantage of a simpler way to reduce your heating bill: turning the temperature down. If you reduce the temperature on your thermostat by just 1 degree, then you can save up to £75 and reduce your home’s carbon dioxide emissions by up to 320kg, all without you even noticing.

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