Can smart heating save you money?on September 14, 2023 at 16:30 Tech Advisor


The good news is that energy prices are set to be a little lower this year than last winter, with Ofgem announcing a new October price cap that’s down by 7%. The bad news is that the cost of living crisis is ongoing and we’ll all still be watching our wallets.

So, it’s not surprising that people are wondering whether a smart heating system can save them money.

A smart thermostat can make controlling your home heating easier and more convenient. It can ensure you always wake up in and come home to warm rooms, and make sure you never heat an empty one. But the big question is: will it save you money? And if so, how much?

There are a number of smart heating systems available today, with Hive, Honeywell, Nest, Tado and Drayton Wiser among the best known and best performing. To find out more about each system and see which we rate the highest, check out our round-up of the best smart thermostats we’ve tested.

How much does smart heating really save?

Because systems vary, as do the size of people’s homes and their households, it’s hard to get a one-size-fits-all estimate. But many people can expect to save 10-20% on their current household heating bill if they fit a smart home system and use its energy-saving features.

Some smart heating companies make grander claims. For instance, Tado says that it will save users up to 28% on their heating bills. But this saving is calculated against households that currently heat rooms when they’re empty or when the family is away from home, and who don’t take any energy-saving measures.

Essentially, the more heat you’re likely to be wasting in daily use, the more money you could save by improving your home heating’s efficiency. But if you’re already careful with your heating, a smart system will just make it easier for you to keep up your good habits and make sure you don’t slip up.

What will a smart heating system cost?

Before you think about savings, you’ll need to factor in the cost of buying smart home equipment and having it installed. Smart home systems can cost from £100 to over £400 – plus installation – so it’ll be some time before you recoup your costs, let alone begin to save money.

A few years ago, we would have been much more sceptical about money-saving, but as heating costs have risen, things have changed. Your smart home system could end up paying for itself much sooner. It’s well worth your time to look into it and decide if it’ll work for you.

One of the most budget-friendly options at the moment is the Hive Thermostat Mini, which costs £119, or £218 with installation from a British Gas engineer. You can read our review of it to find out more.

But with some brands, there may be further costs involved. Aside from initial purchase and installation costs, look out for paid subscription services. Some smart heating systems, including Tado, require you to sign up to a subscription service to get the full benefit of the product, which could end up costing you more than you save.

Then there’s the additional cost of smart radiator valves, which will let you adjust the heating individually in separate rooms. They cost around £30-£50 each, although some are more expensive, and you’ll need one for every radiator you want to control from an app.


You’ll also need to factor in the cost of batteries to run them.

So are these costs worth it? Here are some questions about your home heating. Your answers will determine how much money you’re likely to save with a smart system.

Do you own your home?

As you have to invest in smart heating, it’s only going to be financially worthwhile if you’re planning to live in the same home for at least the next couple of years. If you’re a short-term tenant or you’re considering a move in the next year or two, installing smart heating will only end up costing you money.

Do you leave the heating on when you’re not home?

Smart heating systems allow you to easily schedule when your heating turns on and off, which is great if your family has a regular routine. But if you work shifts, or have family coming and going at irregular times, you’ll need more than straightforward scheduling.

Nest is equipped with a motion sensor and will learn your schedule and tweak the heating accordingly.

Perhaps even more efficiently, Tado and Hive use geolocation technology see who’s home and adjust the heating accordingly. When the last member of your family goes out, it’ll switch off the heating until someone comes in again. Bear in mind that for the system to detect you, you’ll need to have the smart heating app on your phone.

Smart controls will also allow you to turn off the heating remotely, from your phone, so if your plans change and you’re going to be out later than expected, you’re not wasting money heating an empty house.

Many smart heating systems also have a boost function. If your home is cold, you can press the boost button to fire up the heat but it’ll switch itself off again once it reaches the set temperature, so you won’t have to remember to do it. 

Do you heat rooms you don’t often use, or at times of day that they’re empty?

If you heat your sitting room all day long but only use it in the evenings, a multi-zone smart heating system could help you save money. Most smart heating systems provide you with a smart thermostat to put in one room and will heat the whole house to the same temperature.   

A multi-zone system, like the ones from Drayton Wiser, Hive Active Heating 2 or Honeywell Evohome, will allow you to set different separate heating schedules for different rooms, so they’re warm when you need them and energy-saving when you don’t.

If you don’t want to invest in a whole smart heating system, or if your home isn’t plumbed for multi-zones, you can achieve a similar effect by buying individual smart radiator valves, which will allow you to control the heat in a single room. However, as they cost £30-£50 each, it’ll take a long time to recoup their cost. But, as you can take them with you when you move out, they’re an option for tenants and people planning to move in the near future.

Do you ever leave windows open accidentally?

Some smart heating systems, including Tado, have open window detection that’ll shut off the heat if a window is left ajar, to ensure you’re not paying to heat up the garden.

Do you forget to turn down the heating on a milder day?

If you forget to factor in the weather when scheduling your heating, a smart system could help.

Temperature sensors and internet access (for local weather information) mean that some systems, including the Nest 3rd Generation, can monitor the weather and factor that into the heating schedule. So, if a heatwave hits, you won’t have the radiators running at full tilt when you get home.

Most systems also have holiday modes that turn everything off when you’re away, while some also have a feature that checks if the outside temperature gets too low, then turns on your heating to avoid freezing pipes and the bills they bring.

Do you forget to keep track of how much energy you’re using?

One big advantage of using a smart system is that you can easily see how much you’re spending. Traditional methods would have you blindly racking up a bill, only knowing the extent of the cost once the bill arrives.

Smart systems let you see a constant running tally of your usage, making it easier to budget. It can be the difference between boosting the heating on a colder night or realising that you might as well just put a jumper on instead.

Finding a smart heating system that’ll save you money

The more questions you answered yes to, the more you’re likely to financially benefit from a smart home heating system.

But if you’re largely considering investing in smart heating for financial reasons, we’d suggest that you follow these steps:

Research the best smart heating system for you. Don’t buy a package whose best money-saving feature is geolocation if you’re in a household where there’s usually someone at home.

Check whether the smart heating system you’re considering requires a subscription to unlock any money-saving features.

Look out for deals on smart home products. Black Friday is a good time to buy.

Consider a system you can install yourself.

Once your system is up and running, make use of all the features you can. If you don’t use it to its full potential, you might not save any money at all.

For more money-saving energy advice, have a look at our articles on how to save on your power bills and how to find out what your appliances cost to run. And to find the best smart heating system for you, read our round-up of the best smart thermostats we’ve tested.

Smart Home, Thermostats

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