Smart Heating Systems, Home Automation & Heating Control

Smart Home image courtesy of Nest Image: Nest

In many ways, heating hasn’t changed much in 50 years. Boilers may be more efficient, and you may get hot water on demand, but control systems have been stuck in the stone age. Recently we visited a property with a newly-installed wireless thermostat where it proved nigh-on impossible to even change the temperature without resorting to the manual and a cryptic set of keypresses.


Thankfully, a number of manufacturers have woken up and realised there are benefits to be had from throwing out traditional ideas and starting again, with solid engineering, exceptional interface design and innovative ideas.


So what are these benefits? Well, consider the following:


  • By heating your home intelligently - for example, dynamically changing temperatures according to occupancy, usage, weather conditions, and even whether somebody’s left windows wide open - you can both reduce your heating costs and make your home a more pleasant environment.
  • Connecting your heating system securely to the internet allows you to control your heating remotely, through the Web or a smartphone app. Back from holiday? Turn your heating on when you arrive at the airport so your house is warm and welcoming when you get home. Find out if the kids turned the thermostat up the second you left for work. Monitor your heating costs & efficiency to make sure you’re getting the best out of your system.
  • Own a holiday home? Now you can ensure your heating’s set to a low setting when the building is unoccupied, saving you money whilst protecting against damp and frost. When guests arrive they can find the property warm & welcoming with the hot water ready to use straight away. Control the range of parameters guests can set from the thermostat, locking down functions you don’t want them to control. And delegate control to your property management or lettings company to manage on your behalf.


We’ve been out into the marketplace and researched a number of pieces of technology from a variety of companies - some niche and others major global players. From this we’ve identified two product ranges in particular which we think are best of breed.


Owned by Google’s holding company Alphabet, Nest makes the most functionally impressive, and dare we say it sexist, intelligent thermostat on the market. Forget everything you thought you knew about heating control systems - white plastic, flashing LCD displays and incomprehensible interfaces. Nest has built a thermostat that looks beautiful and works brilliantly.


The Nest Thermostat replaces your existing thermostat, and hot water controller if you have one. It has three key features:


  • The Nest Thermostat intelligently and automatically controls your heating. It detects whether you’re in or out, and monitors for daily or weekly patterns of activity, tuning your heating for the ideal blend of comfort and efficiency, automatically. The granularity and intelligence is impressive: for example, if the thermostat detects it’s being hit by sunlight, it knows and reacts accordingly, rather than turning your heating down! The Nest will automatically look at the weather reports for your area so by the time a cold spell hits your heating will already be optimised.
  • It’s simple and intuitive to use. Turn the smooth metal dial to adjust the temperature up or down; the display will tell you how long you’ll need to wait for the house to reach temperature. Press the screen or dial to access all the thermostat’s advanced range of options and controls.
  • Everything you access on the Nest can also be accessed via the Internet, through a website or smartphone app. So when you go away, you can turn the heating down or the hot water off from the airport, and tell it when you’re on your way home so the house can be warm for your arrival.


For holiday properties the Nest Thermostat is ideal. Using the app from anywhere around the world, you can pre-heat the house prior to guests arriving, turn on the hot water, and set a range of parameters visitors can control. No longer will the cleaner turn up on changeover day and find the thermostat set to 30 degrees! You can even delegate access to your property management company to preset the heating on your behalf.


If you choose a Nest CO/smoke alarm, your boiler will even automatically shut down when the alarm detects carbon monoxide, while each smoke alarm acts as an additional occupancy sensor to tell the thermostat when the building is in use.


The cost of the thermostat including installation is typically £250, and it can work with most types of boiler and central heating system. Devonia Electrical is a Nest Pro Installer (Pro ID: 35D-B6E).


D Series radiator. Image courtesy of Rointe. Image: Rointe

Of course, not all of us have central heating. Many properties rely on immersion heaters, and night storage heaters or panel heaters. Rointe is an innovative well-established manufacturer bringing advanced Smart Home concepts to electrical heating systems.


Rointe’s D Series electric radiators can be controlled through an intuitive touch-screen interface, or via a smartphone app. The technology they’ve built in promises to save money, even compared to night storage systems, by heating more efficiently through several clever tricks:


  • Advanced control circuitry means your target temperature can be hit accurately without overrun. Traditional heaters have clumsy solid-state thermostats with an accuracy of a few degrees at best. Accurate temperature control means your heater’s not wasting heat, and your room’s not going hot and cold, directly reducing running costs. Kids left the window wide open? The D Series radiators will detect the sudden drop in temperature and automatically shut themselves down to save money.
  • Compared to night storage heaters, electric radiators can optimise both energy usage and temperature. Night storage heaters give a heat peak in the small hours of the morning, then gradually run the temperature down over the course of the following day; this is pretty much the opposite of what most users want. Smart electric radiators will fine-tune the temperature over the course of a day to optimise environmental comfort and power use. Your electricity may be cheaper at night, but overall running costs can be lower than with storage heaters.
  • Depending on your electricity supply plan, you may even get the best of both worlds and run your electric radiators on cheap economy tariffs overnight while retaining the benefit of the temperature you want during the day.


The Rointe Connect smartphone app allows you to monitor and control your electric radiators individually or in logical groups or zones, from wherever you are around the world. Adjust temperatures, program holidays and monitor energy use even when the house is empty.


Rointe also has a smart range of programmable towel rails with built-in flexible timers and temperature controls. Set your towel rail to heat the bathroom before you use it early each morning, or run a two-hour Boost programme when you jump in the bath. The world’s first wifi-connected towel rails, the D Series range can even be controlled remotely through the Rointe Connect smartphone app.


Finally, Rointe’s Kyros water heaters are highly efficient and electronically controlled, reducing running costs while providing you hot water exactly when you need it.


Please note: while we were formally an official Rointe installer, due to recent experiences with product support we are no longer happy to recommend Rointe products.

Other Products

Home automation is a fast-evolving field, with new products constantly arriving. If you prefer a different brand, such as British Gas' Hive thermostat, or Heatmiser, we're happy to source and install products from any supplier of your choice.

Any questions?

Devonia Electrical
13 Shute Park
Malborough, Devon TQ7 3SU


Tel: 01548 561561

Mobile: 07970 062008



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