Smart Thermostats explained and the three leading devices Adam Ahrens May 19, 2023

Smart Thermostats explained and the three leading devices

Smart Thermostat - Nest

What is a Smart Thermostat? A smart thermostat lets you control your heating system through a smart device. Smart Thermostats can also be voice controlled if linked to other smart devices. This will help you maintain a more energy-efficient home than a standard thermostat. You have the freedom to alter your heating while home or away. A smart thermostat comes into its own with the ability to set up schedules so that your heating is is more environmentally friendly. 

Your thermostat controls 60% of your energy bills, so investing in an energy-efficient smart thermostat is something everyone should consider. Smart Thermostats have a proven record of helping to reduce energy bills.

Instead of a simple scheduling method on a traditional thermostat, you can increase or decrease the temperature using an accompanying app. Alternatively, turn the heating off if you are out and know you will not be home. Alternatively, you can set the heating to come on when you arrive home. Ensuring you are heating your home with no one benefiting unless you have and love your pets, of course.

What are the pros and cons of using a smart thermostat?

Pro: You can schedule your heating to operate when you need it, reducing the temperature or turning it off to save wasting energy and increased costs.

Con: They can be pretty expensive with upfront costs, but many new boiler packages will have them included. This often will be more cost-effective as they will also be installed at the same time as your new boiler.

Pro: An excellent way to help save money. The ability to control when your heating is on and at what temperature will help you use your heating system to its full potential.

Con: One main issue with a smart thermostat is the number of people accessing it. People tend to override or change current settings. Which can often increase energy usage or ultimately reduce the effectiveness of the smart thermostat. You need to restrict access or have a complete plan for when you want your heating on. Not ideal to plan for heating, but doing so can save you money.

Like any smart device, time to understand how it works and trial and error will be required to get the most out of it, but the results will speak for themselves.

What smart thermostats are considered the best on the market?

Hive MINI thermostat

Hive MINI Heating Wireless Smart Thermostat

The Hive Thermostat Mini has a smaller, sleeker design compared to its Hive counterpart measuring H8 x W8 x D2cm. It also has all the benefits of smart heating but at a more affordable price. The innovative MINI Thermostat can help you save up to £311 a year by never heating an empty home or using more energy than required.

The Hive MINI is compatible with all types of gas combi boilers & most LPG, Oil, and electric boilers. Always check what boiler you have before purchasing for compatibility, as this can be an expensive mishap. Each smart thermostat will come with its own application. The Hive Smart Home app lets you manage your heating and hot water from the palm of your hand. The multiroom heating feature lets you set individual rooms to your preferred temperature via Hive smart radiator valves (TRV).

Not only will you have access to your heating system via an app, but if you have a smart home device, you can control your heating with voice commands. The Hive MINI is compatible with Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant and Siri. Turn up the heating and find out what the current temperature is. As the colder months draw in, your heating pipes will be protected via frost protection. Having frost protection will ensure all outdoor pipes remain free flowing. You can’t get smarter than that.

Hive has considered every scenario when developing this device. Its holiday mode feature allows you to set your heating to work at a minimum, ensuring your system stays efficient and saves on your energy bills. The one thing you need to know is that accessing many of the features requires HIVE Heating Plus, which is a monthly subscription of £3.99 or a £39.99 one-off yearly payment.

Check out our Hive Smart Thermostat review blog for a more in-depth review.

Hive MINI costs approximately £139, but it can vary.

google nest thermostat

Google Nest 3rd Gen Smart Thermostat

Google Nest is often referred to as the Learning Thermostat due to its ability to learn your lifestyle and adjust the heating to suit your daily routine. By doing that, the smart thermostat will let you save up to 16% on your energy bill, which in monetary terms is £16 out of every £100.

Nest Learning Thermostat will automatically adjust the temperature after you’ve left your home. The Nest will even turn off your hot water if you’re away for a few days saving you that little extra off your bills.

Like all Smart Thermostats, you can control your heating manually or through the Nest App and keep track of your energy usage. You can also control your Nest via voice commands with compatible smart devices like the Google Home Hub/Max and Nest speaker (sold separately). Versatile and adaptable, it is especially perfect for the more mature and those with underlying health issues.  

Nest uses OpenTherm technology to modulate your high efficiency condensing boiler, making it suitable for most heating systems. Like all smart thermostats, it is essential to check before purchasing.

The Nest Learning Thermostat lets you see who has turned the heat up with multiple compatible devices connected. As identified initially as a con, the nest enables you to see any changes and will adapt to those and help reduce arguments within the household.

The green leaf (our favourite feature!) sets your home heating at optimum energy efficiency. This will show you on screen that you are the most efficient you can be. It will always look to improve and adapt to the climate to ensure you get the best out of it. Even though it is our favourite feature, you will find yourself obsessed with the green leaf and checking that it is displayed on your thermostat.

The Nest Learning thermostat will also detect your presence and turn on its 24-bit LCD display to show you the time or the current temperature setting. On the flip side, the thermostat will go to sleep mode when you are away to maximise the battery life.

The Nest Learning Thermostat is also compatible with other products. One of the most important is Nest Protect (sold separately). This will detect fires and carbon monoxide leakage. By linking the two (Nest Protect and the thermostat), the Nest Protect will send a signal to the smart thermostat if there’s a gas leakage. The thermostat will then automatically turn the boiler off to increase your safety. 

You will receive a notification on your smart device and vocal instructions from the device itself. The Nest smart thermostat does not require a monthly subscription, but if you are an avid Google user, you may want it or have it needed for full use of Google security tech.

Check out our Google Nest blog for a more detailed review.

The cost of a Google Nest is approximately £229 but can vary.

Tado-thermostat

tado° V3+ Smart Thermostat Starter Kit

The tado° V3+ Smart Thermostat is a robust thermostat with a sleek design. The tado° thermostat gives you complete control over your home heating. Within the tado° starter kit, you’ll get a wireless thermostat, wireless receiver, and internet bridge.

The tado° V3+ has many impressive features, which can be accessed through the tado° app. These features include Geofencing, weather adaptation, insightful statistics, energy savings report, multi-room control (additional Smart Thermostats required), heating boost function and frost protection. You’ll also get instant notifications on your smartphone should anything goes wrong with your heating system or a boiler breakdown. 

It is essential to know that a subscription service called Auto Assist is required at £3 a month to access many of the features.

The app allows you to control your entire heating system by scheduling, adjusting, and reporting on the efficiency of your heating system.

The Geofencing feature allows multiple users to set up their accounts and become part of the system. This means that the heating can react to the first person entering or the last exiting the house and adjust the heating, so it doesn’t waste unnecessary energy. Much like Google Nest, this reacts to individual users, preventing confusion and inefficient energy usage.

Compatible with all smart device operating systems, there are no limits to which provider you use. However, when you add it to the Thermostat, that tado° becomes a standout. Adding the Smart Radiator Thermostat to your home setup will introduce Zone Heating. Each room can be set to an individual temperature, all controlled by the app.

The cost of the tado° V3+ Smart Thermostat Starter Kit is £199 but can vary.

So, which Smart Thermostat should I get?

Honestly, it is a personal preference and budget. They all fundamentally do the same thing. Hive is more universal and can be used with multiple boiler types and smart devices, and it is a fair price. 

Google Nest is a far more expensive model with some unique characteristics, such as learning your habits. The downside to Google Nest is that you can only really maximise its full potential by connecting it to other Google smart devices. This is not a downside if you use those devices already. 

The tado° is a sleek-looking device that is perfect for any home. If you are looking for quality that is not as mainstream as the Hive or Nest, then tado° is the one for you. It has all the necessary functionality and features to make it an energy-saving device and comes reasonably priced. Overall, all are efficient, and it all comes down to your situation to decide the best model for you.