• Control your heating with just a word
  • A reduction in energy bills could be at your door (literally!)
  • Solar panels are a great option, but you can start smaller

A hive thermostat on a wall

Smarten up your thermostat

Smart thermostats are one of the most popular connected home solutions because they make regulating and monitoring the heat in your home a breeze. The latest models can learn more about you and your behaviour over time, which means they can automatically turn the heat up and down, or on and off, depending on your habits.

If you like the radiators warming your towel 10 minutes before your morning alarm goes off, but you forget to set the central heating one day, well, your thermostat will pick up the slack.

'Smart thermostats are becoming more cost effective to buy and are simple to install,' says James Brook, the Group Marketing Manager at Rix Petroleum, adding that another major appeal is the fact that they make it easy to understanding energy use.

'Displaying the energy consumption on a screen encourages people to think twice about leaving the lights on or turning the heating up, saving energy, money and carbon dioxide.'

One of the best things about smart thermostats is their accessibility. You can link them to a smartphone to monitor or even control your heating from an app. One of the leading providers, Hive, meanwhile, has just announced a partnership with Amazon, that will allow owners of both a Hive smart thermostat and the latest Amazon Echo to control their heating with voice commands. 

Smart thermostats can be picked up from a number of energy providers, as well as some specialist companies. If you are put off by the initial asking price, there are a few that have alternative payment options, such as ScottishPower Connect, which can be paid for in monthly installments. 

For those looking for something even better value, a smart meter could help save money by helping you monitor your energy consumption. As part of a drive to reduce carbon emissions, the UK government has told energy suppliers that they need to offer a free installation of energy meters in homes up and down the country. 

According to OFGEM, there are more than 3.3 million smart meters already installed as of June 2016 and these new meters can keep you up-to-date in real-time about what energy you use and send those stats to your supplier.

A man turning a dial on a boiler

Revamp your appliances and your insulation

It's not just thermostats that can make your home smarter and bills a bit lower. There is a range of smarter appliances on the market that can help consumers save energy, such as washing machines that measure the load and change performance accordingly. 

Handily, many of these new products can be set using an app, or to run automatically during low periods of energy usage – they can even alert you to the best times to do the washing. 

Alternatively, updating your old boiler with a newer, more energy efficient one can help you to save. Upgrading from a G to an A-rated boiler can save those living in a semi-detached property £215 a year, according to the Energy Saving Trust. 

If your boiler is less than 15 years old, you will be eligible for LV= home emergency cover, should you have any difficulty with it, as long as you keep it serviced every three years.

James Brook, meanwhile, suggests taking one room at a time and updating it to make sure it's fully insulated.

'By adding just 270mm of loft insulation you could save not only £180 a year, but also stop 730kg of carbon dioxide from being released into the atmosphere,' he recommends. 'What's more, it takes as little as two years to pay for itself. 

'An insulated letterbox flap is a great way of stopping draughts through your home,' he adds. 'In fact, you can lose up to 27% of hallway heat through a letterbox – so purchasing an eco-friendly letterbox can really keep your prices down.'

A man putting some solar panels up on a roof

Light up your life

Solar panels are a significant investment, but installing just a few on your house allows you to produce your own renewable energy.

Not only could you save money on your energy bills, you could make money as well by selling any excess energy you produce and don't use back to the national grid.

According to The Eco Experts, solar panels could deliver earnings and savings of around £8,080 over 20 years, with a profit of £2,080. 

Before you install solar panels, just make sure they are right for your situation. They're expensive in the short term, a big commitment and can reduce the value of your home. A lower risk option is switching to LED lighting in your home. According to a report from The Telegraph, switching out your bulbs for a more energy efficient LED option could save you £240 a year, paying you back the cost of installation in just five months. 

Whether you choose to install solar panels or just switch out your old boiler for a new one, it really is worth investing some time, energy and money into making your home smarter, cheaper to heat and easier to manage.

Sources

https://www.hivehome.com/press-room/hive-brings-voice-control-to-your-home

https://www.uswitch.com/gas-electricity/guides/what-are-smart-thermostats/#step2

https://www.ofgem.gov.uk/publications-and-updates/infographic-energy-network

http://www.energysavingtrust.org.uk/home-energy-efficiency/boiler-replacement

https://www.rix.co.uk/domestic-fuel/energy-saving-tips

http://www.theecoexperts.co.uk/are-solar-pv-panels-good-investment

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/personalfinance/household-bills/10756999/How-to-save-240-a-year-with-LED-lightbulbs.html