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What is a smart thermostat and are they worth it?

Since their introduction in the late 2000s, smart thermostats have been transforming the way people manage their home central heating systems.

sensoCOMFORT thermostat on wall with people blurred in background

What you'll learn

  • What is a smart thermostat?
  • How do smart thermostats work?
  • What are the benefits of smart thermostats?
  • FAQs

With smartphones being the primary communication method for UK residents, the popularity of smart thermostats, and smart energy-saving devices, has grown significantly.

But what exactly is a smart thermostat, how do they work, and are they worth the investment? We explain all in this article.

What is a smart thermostat?

A smart thermostat is an internet-connected device that allows you to manage your domestic central heating system and your hot water remotely. This includes regulation of the internal temperature and your heating schedule.

Some smart thermostats pair with an app that can be installed on a smartphone from which adjustments can be made to the heating temperature and schedule from anywhere with an internet connection.

The myVAILLANT app when paired with a Vaillant internet gateway is an even smarter, faster and intuitive way for homeowners to control their heating system. You can control your heating via the app on your smartphone or via your smart speakers such as Apple HomeKit and Amazon Alexa.

The app also allows you to monitor your energy usage whilst giving you insights into how much energy you are using.

Vaillant’s sensoROOM smart thermostat has a weather compensation feature meaning it uses weather forecast data and the outdoor temperature to provide you with the optimum internal temperature to help you reach maximum comfort.

When a smart thermostat is connected to the internet, they can also take into account external weather conditions when operating a boiler or heat pump, automatically increasing or decreasing the workload of the system for greater efficiency.

two women sat on a sofa on their mobile phone

How do smart thermostats work?

At the most basic level, smart thermostats function in the same way as a traditional manual thermostat, in that they send a signal to the boiler or heat pump to activate the central heating system until it senses that the desired temperature has been reached. The boiler or heat pump then turns off automatically, restarting again if the temperature dips below the set-point.

They also offer the same heating schedule functions as programmable thermostats. You are able to programme your central heating system to turn on and off at certain times of the day, as well as set your desired interior temperature.

Where smart thermostats differ is that they use Wi-Fi to connect to your home’s wireless network, enabling them to be controlled remotely via an app on your smart device. From the app, you can adjust the temperature and schedule remotely at your own convenience. Further convenience is provided by the integration with Amazon Alexa and Apple HomeKit meaning you can use voice commands to ask Alexa or Siri to change the temperature.

It’s worth noting that smart thermostats can also be controlled by making adjustments manually using the device’s in-built controls. This acts as a fail-safe in the event that there is a problem with your home’s internet connection.

Watch our video 'Why choose a Vaillant control'

What are the benefits of smart thermostats?

Control your heating system remotely

Perhaps the most significant advantage of smart thermostats is the ability to control them remotely, no matter where you are in the world (provided you have an internet connection).

You can use the dedicated Vaillant app on your smartphone to see what the temperature is inside your home and make changes to the heating schedule.

If you have a loved one that doesn’t have a smart device to control their heating, you can download the app on their behalf to ensure their home is at a comfortable temperature. You will also be alerted if any faults with the heating system were to occur.

This gives you the convenience of being able to leave the heating off until it’s actually required, requesting a heating “boost” on your way home so that energy consumption is reduced, resulting in lower energy bills.

Because you can activate your central heating system anytime and anywhere, you never have to be concerned about heating an empty home.

If your plans change and you’re not returning home at the time you expected, simply open the app and adjust the schedule remotely.

Not wasting energy on heating when you aren’t at home will reduce your overall energy consumption, which has the additional benefit of saving you money on your gas bills.

Monitor your energy usage

While the primary function of smart thermostat dedicated app is to give you control over your heating system, they also provide you with valuable insights into how and when you’re consuming energy.

By monitoring the data provided by the app, it’s possible that you could make changes to your daily energy consumption habits in order to further lower your energy bills.

Multi-location access and control

If you spend time at multiple locations, such as a family home and a holiday home, each property equipped with a smart thermostat can be conveniently controlled from their dedicated app. If you care for an relative or friend who doesn't have a smart phone, you can download the myVAILLANT app on your phone and manage their heating and hot water on their behalf.

Automatic weather compensation

In the initial weeks following installation, smart thermostats will learn the thermal behaviour of your home. This means that when in use, the device is analysing how long it takes to heat up your home in different scenarios, such as variations in the time of day and initial temperature.

With this information, a smart heating system can instruct the boiler on the most efficient time and temperature from which to activate the heating process, ensuring that the correct set-point is achieved at the precise moment when it is desired.

Remote faults

If the worst were to happen and a fault occurred with your heating system while you were out of your property, the myVAILLANT app will alert you and get in touch with a heating engineer to resolve the issues as quickly as possible.

FAQs

  • Do smart thermostats work with Amazon Alexa?

    Yes, Vaillant smart thermostats on the myVAILLANT app work with Amazon Alexa.

  • Do smart thermostats work with Apple HomeKit?

    Yes, Vaillant smart thermostats on the myVAILLANT app work with Apple Homekit when they are paired with the myVAILLANT connect internet gateway.

  • Are smart thermostats easy to install?

    Yes, depending on the configuration of your heating system, a smart thermostat should be installed by a Vaillant installer.

  • Who installs smart thermostats?

    Your local Vaillant installer.

    It is highly recommended that your commission a qualifed installer to ensure the system is set up correctly and avoid any mishaps. Please contact your local Vaillant installer here.

  • How many smart thermostats do I need?

    You only need one smart thermosat per property.

  • Can smart thermostats be used with any boiler?

    Not every boiler, but most.

    You should check with the manufacturer of your boiler that is compatiable before committing the purchase of a smart thermostat.

  • Do smart thermostats work with heat pumps?

    Yes, smart thermostats and heating controls can be used with all types of heat p[umps, including air source, ground source and water source heat pumps.