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What is smart heating and how does it work?

PUBLISHED: 08:46 23 February 2019

With some Smart heating controls, individual rooms can be set to different temperatures.  Picture Getty Images

With some Smart heating controls, individual rooms can be set to different temperatures. Picture Getty Images

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Nobody wants to pay to heat their home when they’re not there, but we all want a warm house to come home to – does Smart heating mean we can have both?

Our homes at the right temperature at the right time is the idea behind Smart heating, and it should save us money. Picture Getty ImagesOur homes at the right temperature at the right time is the idea behind Smart heating, and it should save us money. Picture Getty Images

If we’re home earlier than expected, we want a cosy house without having to faff with complicated heating controls and we want to know how much energy we’re using when heating our homes and hot water.

That’s where SMART Technology steps in.

It’s Self-Monitoring Analysis And Reporting Technology and there are now multiple players in the smart heating control market, with a multitude of different products that all promise different levels of heating control. These control units provide the user with the ability to monitor energy usage, giving us greater control and understanding of how we can use energy efficiently.

In simple terms, a smart heating control system has a central wireless thermostat unit, which replaces the traditional thermostat we are all familiar with. This control unit has a host of additional features which not only allow you to set the heating schedules to suit your lifestyle but also allow you to fine-tune your heating to make the best use of cheaper energy tariffs (where available) and also control your heating remotely from anywhere with a wifi network.

Setting room temperature using the Ecodan air source heat pump MELCloud app. Picture Mitsubishi ElectricSetting room temperature using the Ecodan air source heat pump MELCloud app. Picture Mitsubishi Electric

Whilst being very simple and user-friendly to set up, some smart heating control systems can actually learn from your habits, and can create an automatic control or heating program to suit your lifestyle.

It is even now possible for a homeowner to set a specific temperature in advance, and the smart heating control system will work out what time it needs to start for your home to reach the regulated temperature at the exact point you require it. Some systems even factor in the outdoor temperature to adjust the time the heating turns on, and the latest generation of controls can even switch on automatically when family members are nearing home, by tracking their location via their mobile phones.

Smart heating is a handy and user-friendly way to monitor, measure and control the temperature in your home.

Many of the newer devices have large touchscreens in the home and offer remote control via smart device apps, so you can use your phone or tablet if you prefer, meaning no more squinting trying to adjust tiny buttons on a traditional thermostat, or trying to adjust the hot water timings on a fiddly device in your airing cupboard.

Ecodan air source heat pump – renewable heating technolog. Picture Mitsubishi ElectricEcodan air source heat pump – renewable heating technolog. Picture Mitsubishi Electric

Most modern systems are comprised of three components. The first is a smart connection that plugs into your traditional boiler, or if you have the very latest generation of renewable heating systems, your air source heat pump. This uses WiFi to talk to the second component, which is the in-home thermostat and main control.

Individual room thermometers, known as smart thermostatic radiator valves (TRVs), can be attached to each radiator where they can be controlled individually. This means you can accurately regulate the temperature of separate rooms, so you can heat living areas when you’re awake, and bedrooms when you’re asleep. The precise controls mean you can set each room to the temperature you desire at the exact time you want it.

The third element is the control app like Mitsubishi Electric’s MELCloud that is designed to control their Ecodan range of air source heat pumps. The MELCloud App lets you remotely control your thermostat and adjust the heating using your phone or tablet from wherever you are, whether you’re relaxing on the sofa or busy at work. If you are going to be home later than expected, you can change the heating setting for the evening. If you are away and forget to adjust the thermostat, you can do it from your phone or desktop. If you’re busy in the kitchen and don’t need the heating on in the living room, you can turn it down using your phone without moving an inch.

“With remote access, you can keep an eye on your home temperature from anywhere and adjust it whenever you like,” says Max Halliwell, Residential Heating Communications Manager at Mitsubishi Electric.

With the very latest generation of renewable heating technologies like Mitsubishi Electric’s Ecodan range of air source heat pumps, it is even possible for Mitsubishi Electric to monitor your home heating system remotely from their technical centre. One phone call to their Technical Helpdesk, provides instant remote access to full monitoring and fault diagnostics, meaning that issues with your heating or hot water can often be resolved over the phone, without the need for an engineer to make a visit.

We don't want to pay to heat our home when we're not there, but we do want it warm when we return,  Picture Getty ImagesWe don't want to pay to heat our home when we're not there, but we do want it warm when we return, Picture Getty Images

The cheapest smart heating control systems begin at around £100, with most costing between £2-300. The exact cost depends on the sophistication of the smart heating system and will depend on which elements you combine, plus installation costs in your area. However, smart heating control systems have the potential to save you money.

“Smart heating controls and smart thermostats can help you save energy and money. They can program your heating and hot water intelligently to make sure you’re only using energy when you need to,” adds Max Halliwell.

Thanks to Max Halliwell, Residential Heating Communications Manager at Mitsubishi Electric for help compiling this article. For more information visit ecodan.me.uk/smart

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