With the rise in energy bills following the recent energy price cap increase, homeowners are searching for ways to save money and lower the amount of energy they use. Remi Volpe, Managing Director at Drayton, discusses the pivotal role smart heating controls have to play and the benefits they can offer to both customers and installers.
In a typical UK home, heating and hot water accounts for around 50% of the total energy use which means that now is an ideal time for installers to be working with homeowners to offer them smarter heating solutions. Many options available on the market today not only provide a more intuitive way to heat homes, resulting in lower energy bills and usage, but also help future proof homes for the changes that are going to happen over the coming years.
From being smarter about which parts of the house are heated and when, to providing information about where and how energy is used, heating controls now offer a whole host of ways for homeowners to improve the efficiency of their heating system. But what are the benefits and how can they be achieved?
One of the most common ways in which energy is wasted is by having the heating on when it’s not required. Whilst having to alter settings on a more traditional programmable thermostat can be an inconvenience that homeowners would rather not worry about, having a smart control makes it easier than ever to adjust heating schedules.
Most smart controls offer the flexibility to adjust these settings at any time, remotely on a smartphone. This feature is ideal for customers with unpredictable lifestyles and helps to ensure energy isn’t wasted by heating an empty house, consequently helping to lower energy bills. Research shows that by just upgrading to a smart programmable thermostat, such as Wiser, homeowners can save 18% on their energy costs.
Over the past few years, thanks to the advent of increased home working and multi-generational living, homeowners have also become more conscious about the ways in which they heat their homes, especially when it comes to heating empty rooms. This is where a heating control that offers multi-zoning capabilities can be of great benefit.
Previously, heating engineers would have used a low loss header system to create different zones, however smart heating controls and smart radiator thermostats have made this easier than ever to achieve. With a control like Wiser, installers can simply fit Wiser Radiator Thermostats onto each radiator within the home to achieve room-to-room heating control.
Rather than setting a heating schedule for the whole house, homeowners can programme individual rooms to be at different temperatures at different times. A multi-zoned smart heating system can save up to 19% more energy in a three-bedroom semi-detached house over a smart thermostat system alone.
Smart modes, which include functions such as optimum stop as well as weather compensation, can also contribute to energy reductions whilst keeping homeowners comfortable.
Optimum stop monitors environmental conditions to turn off the heating at the optimum time without reducing homeowner comfort or overshooting the desired temperature. For example, Wiser’s Eco Mode combines optimum stop and weather compensation to ensure the heating system is delivering the heating levels that homeowners are looking for, whilst also helping to make the system more efficient and only using energy that is needed.
As many homeowners are now struggling with the increase in energy costs, being able to see where energy is being used is also a huge bonus, and more installers are being challenged in providing solutions that can help with this. Many smart controls now offer a display of energy consumption in real time, allowing homeowners to see exactly how much energy is being used enabling them to make changes if required.
This can prove to be a useful tool, as turning the heating down by 1°C can reduce a homeowner’s annual energy bill by £80 and reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 320kg. Wiser offers this type of overview in Insights, which can be further enhanced by integrating data from a smart heating system with the Wiser Home app to access Insights+, where homeowners can see their energy savings in monetary values.
By combining the use of these smart heating control features, homeowners can reap the benefits of an efficient heating system by making more educated decisions that not only help reduce their carbon emissions, but also their monthly energy usage.
Planning for the future
As we continue to look towards carbon-neutral ways to heat the 23 million homes in the UK that currently rely on gas boilers, it is expected that electric heating methods, such as heat pumps will become widely adopted. As such, smart heating controls are going to play a hugely important role in maximising the efficiency of this technology.
By utilising open protocols, such as OpenTherm found in most smart controls, different technologies will effectively be able to ‘talk’ to each other within the same system. This will help ensure interoperability between technologies, enabling heat pumps to modulate and achieve optimal performance.
Additionally, hybrid heating systems that incorporate different heat sources are being more widely adopted by homeowners. For installers, the challenge here can be to find a convenient control solution that will be suitable for both elements of the hybrid system. Luckily, there are now heating controls available, such as Wiser, which are compatible with and can incorporate a mix of different heat sources, all of which can be managed in one place via the Wiser Home app.
For installers, being clued up on the latest smart heating controls and the features they offer means that they can play a crucial role in helping homeowners across the country make their energy bills more manageable today, whilst also helping to future proof homes for the changes that are set to come.
For access to training modules on a range of products, including Wiser, you can sign up to Drayton’s 9° network at www.draytoncontrols.co.uk/installers/9-degree-network