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Take control of your heating and save money on your bills! 

Smart Controls

Heating control Picture

Heating controls help you keep your home comfortably warm, without over-heating and wasting energy. By installing and using your heating controls effectively, you could save money on your heating bills and lower your carbon emissions.

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What are heating controls?

Heating controls is a broad term covering timers, thermostats and plumbing and electronic components, which help manage when the heating should be on and what temperature your rooms should be.
Heating controls range from traditional mechanical styles that are set manually, to internet-connected controls that learn your habits and adjust settings automatically.
Heating controls are improving all the time, helping us to control the heat in our homes. However, research shows that few people really understand their controls and many simply just don’t use them.

What heating controls should I have?

Central heating systems, such as boilers and heat pumps, should as a minimum include a programmer (time control), at least one room thermostat and, if you have radiators, thermostatic radiator valves (TRVs). Systems with a hot water cylinder should also include a cylinder thermostat.  

Aside from these core elements, there are many additional control functions that can be included in a modern heating system to make it easier to operate it effectively and efficiently. 
If you have electric storage heaters read our guide on electric heating for information about your controls. 
You can upgrade or install heating controls without replacing your boiler. You should consider new heating controls if you don’t have a programmer, at least one room thermostat or TRVs on your radiators. Modern room thermostats, for example, have more accurate temperature sensors, and many smart controls include additional energy saving functions.

How do I use my heating controls?

There are lots of different types of heating controls, so for specific advice, it’s good to check with your installer or read the manufacturer’s manual. If you don’t have a copy of the manual handy, these can often be found online by searching for the manufacturer’s name. We’ve listed some common functions below. 

Smart heating controls

Many companies offer more advanced control systems for central heating, known as smart heating controls. They do everything that conventional controls do, with a programmer (timer) to control when the heating is on or off and using thermostats to control the heat in your home. However, smart controls are connected to the internet and offer more functionality. 

 Some of the more sophisticated features they can offer include:

Simple and easy to use time and temperature controls with user friendly interfaces, making it easier to check and change the on/off periods for heating and hot water.
Allowing you to turn the system on or off and change the temperature using your smartphone when you’re not at home.
Learning your habits and adjusting controls to match, for example turning up the thermostat in the evening when you’re relaxing, detecting an open window (by a sudden drop in temperature) and turning the thermostat down or heating off, or heating the hot water ready for when you’re most likely to take a shower or bath.
Track where you are using your smartphone location, known as ‘geo-fencing’. When you’re returning home from work, the heating system will turn on and heat the house or hot water in time for your return.
Other advance control functions such as load compensation and weather compensation.

Even if you don’t think you would use features such as geo-fencing, having a system that can learn your habits and adjust times to minimise energy use requires very little input from you once the system has been set up.

Whether smart heating controls will save you money will depend on your lifestyle and how you currently control your heating. Studies suggest that while they can save money, it may take some time to pay for their upfront cost as they can be quite expensive.

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