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Best Smart Thermostat 2020: Smart Heating Systems

To save money on heating this winter and make your home heating more sustainable, your best best is a smart heating system. You’ll be able to check the temperature at a glance, set schedules easily and features such as home-away and open window detection mean you won’t waste heat.

What’s more, you can always come home to a cosy house or wake up in a warm bedroom.  

Still, not every smart heating system is the same – and in fact there’s a huge amount of variation in tech and pricing, which can make it pretty confusing.

We’ve tested most of the smart systems in the UK market and we’ve done our best to break down how each works, what features they have, how they’re installed and what might make them worth your money.

Read on after our chart for more in-depth buying advice.

Best smart heating system reviews

1. Hive Active Heating 2 – Best design

2. Honeywell Evohome – Most comprehensive system

3. Nest Learning Thermostat (3rd Generation) – Simplest to use

Nest Learning Thermostat (3rd Generation)

4. Genius – Full smart home capability

Genius

5. Tado Smart Thermostat Starter Kit V3+ – Best for use with location services

Tado Smart Thermostat Starter Kit V3+

6. Drayton Wiser Multizone – Best priced multi-zone system

Drayton Wiser Multi-Zone

7. Nest Thermostat E – Most stylish

Nest Thermostat E

8. Netatmo Smart Thermostat – E-ink display

Netatmo Smart Thermostat

9. Devolo Home Control Radiator Thermostat – Best budget option

Devolo Home Control Radiator Thermostat

10. Momit Home Thermostat – Easy replacement for a wired thermostat

Momit Home Thermostat

Guide to buying smart home heating

The best smart heating system for you depends on the type of home you have, how you use it and how much money you can outlay to make longer-term savings.

There’s a way of making every house more efficient, comfortable and wasting less heat. But the best method for each house will differ.

The key question is the level to which you need – or want – to make your heating smart.

Most of these systems – Hive, Nest and Netatmo – simply put a smart thermostat into the most-used room in the house or the hallway, and moderate the temperature of the whole house to match that room. For smaller houses, in which most rooms are in regular use, this is probably a cost-effective way of attaining the results you want. You can always turn off the radiators you don’t need to avoid heating rooms unnecessarily.

They also make it easier to set schedules and many have additional ‘smart’ features to make your heating more efficient and save you money. For example, some can detect when no one’s home and automatically turn off the heating, or do the same if a window is left ajar.

Honeywell EvohomeTado, and Genius offer something better. One of the ways they do this is by replacing the valves on your radiators with ‘smart’ valves, although depending on which package you get, you may have to buy these separately.

They allow you to divide up your home into various zones and then offer smart heating in each zone, so your guest bedroom is heated only when required, the master bedroom is warm in the morning and at bedtime, and the kitchen is hot at tea time.

In the UK at least, all modern houses with living space covering ground greater than 150m2 have to be built with at least two zones of heating, according to 2013 Building Regulations Part L.

Tado can be smart-radiator based or a combination of room thermostat and zonal control via its Smart Radiator Thermostats. These smart TRVs can often be used independently of the thermostat so you don’t necessarily need to buy the same brand and you can still use them with Nest, which doesn’t currently offer the valves. The only issue is that you’ll need two separate apps to control your heating.

Smart TRVs are also a great option for people in rented accommodation, as they don’t require permanent installation. Devolo’s system allows you to build up smart devices as and when you need them.

Honeywell, Genius and certain others can control more sophisticated heating systems (including underfloor heating and hot water tanks) but with this additional control comes a higher price tag.

So again: a well-used, modern, small house (or flat) is unlikely to need this level of sophistication, and a well-used large home may have sufficient zones plumbed in to make Nest or Hive a good solution. Just remember that you’ll need one thermostat per zone, so while it’s cheaper than fitting each radiator with a £50/$50 smart TRV, it’s still relatively expensive.

If you have a boiler and central heating you will likely be able to fit any of the systems here. Storage heaters are another matter, as we discuss in this article: can I use a smart thermostat if I have a storage heater?

The next questions to ask are about which additional features are important. There’s no point opting for a system that centres on location services, such as Tado, if there’s usually someone at home.  

Remember that you might also want to supplement your central heating system with a separate portable system, which can give you some more manual control over where you heat. We’ve also reviewed portable heaters, so take a look for our recommendations.

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