Smart thermostats have become all the range over the last 12-18 months, with more and more people installing them in their home to help lower energy bills and better manage their heating requirements.
All the large heating control companies have jumped on board the bandwagon producing their own offerings, like Honeywell with the EvoHome, Heatmiser and Salus with the IT500. Other technology giants are also trying to grab a piece of the action such as Google who spent over $3billion acquiring the Nest in January 2014 – so there is obviously a huge future in intelligent heating controls.
Smart heating controls can’t always control hot water
While smart heating controls can definitely help people lower their heating bills, some smart heating controls systems don’t allow you to control the hot water. For those with combi boilers, this isn’t a problem since hot water is produced as and when it is required, but if you have a hot water tank this does pose a problem.
As time goes on, more and more people are installing unvented cylinders in their homes (e.g. Megaflo or Joule cylinders). These are great in larger properties because they can service many showers / baths at the same time and the pressure produced by this type of system tends to be very good.
The problem for those with this type of system (and for those with the old style vented heat only boilers) is that hot water tends to be produced and stored until it is needed and smart controls aren’t able to control this.
The Nest’s inability to schedule hot water
If you look at the Nest which is by far the most popular smart heating control system, (due to the marketing power of Google!), they recommend getting the installer to disable the heating channel of the programmer when they install the Thermostat, but leaving in place the hot water channel – allowing you to still control the hot water with the programmer.
The majority of smart heating controls do now allow you to schedule hot water however, so the Nest is definitely an exception to the rule, but some manufacturers have produced a work around rather than solved the issue altogether. Take for example the new Heatmiser Smart Stat – if you want to control the hot water with this you need to by an additional thermostat unit (as if the hot water was an extra zone), and instead of using it in thermostat setting, it needs to be programmed to instruct the hot water to come on in timer mode. This means you can still control when the hot water is produced (i.e. when you forget to turn your hot water off when you go on holiday) but it does mean you need to shell out on extra kit.
As time goes on, the smart heating control manufacturers have built the ability to control hot water feature into their units – the British Gas Hive for example could not do this in the first instance, however the latest release does allow you to produce hot water, however at present this is still a failing of the Nest intelligent thermostat. Since the Nest is the most popular intelligent heating control, it seems peculiar that it has not yet been integrated into the system, however we think this stems from it originating in the USA – where this is not such a big issue.
Hopefully in time the Nest will bring in this functionality, however for now if you are looking to control your hot water as well as your heating from your Smart heating controls then you are going to need to look beyond the Nest unfortunately!