Age: Young, yet oh-so mature.
Appearance: Sleek, discreet and confident.
I’ve already fitted thermostats and timers with buttons, screens, dials, and even those annoying fiddly bits you push in and out.
We’ve all got a soft spot for those old school mechanical time switches but it’s time to enter the 21st Century and get smart control savvy!
Stop! You sound like some kind of awful marketing person.
Sorry, we’re just excited about the potential of smart controls for you and your customers.
Just tell me, what’s so smart about these controls?
Well, rather than relying on a pre-programmed timer and thermostat, smart controls can be operated remotely over the Internet. Some products can even make automated decisions on what to do based on things it can monitor and measure.
Woah, that sounds a bit big brother.
Don’t be paranoid, there’s really nothing to fear. They can’t do anything evil, but will save your customers money by reducing energy consumption.
That’s reassuring to hear, but I’m still not sure why I’d control my boiler over the Internet?
Think of it this way. If you’re not at home, but your boiler is on because that’s what the timer and thermostat told it to do, you’re wasting expensive energy. Smart controls let you tell your boiler: ‘hold fire, I’ll be back late tonight’.
I see. That is quite clever, isn’t it?
These devices are controlled via an app on your phone or tablet, so they’re simple to use. Some can tell if you’re away from home from your phone’s location, so can adjust your boiler’s settings automatically. The really clever ones can even sense if you’re heading towards home and make sure the house is nice and warm by the time you get there – that’s called geo-fencing.
Very clever. What else can these gadgets do? Can they do my garden?
Sadly not, but there is lots of Internet enabled things available for the home now and many will talk to each other. So not only can you turn your boiler off simply by driving away from home, but also your lighting. You can also get an alert if your security camera, CO2 or smoke detector trigger.
I’m sold. But are they horribly expensive?
You’d be surprised. A couple of hundred pounds will buy you one with impressive functionality from a reputable brand. Also, the savings they can deliver on your fuel bills mean they’ll pay for themselves in no time.
What brands should I be looking out for?
There’s quite a few, but we recommend Nest, Honeywell, Drayton, Netatmo and Salus.
Where can I find out more?
Why not pop into your local Plumb Center? They’ve got products you can have a play with and the staff have all been through comprehensive training so know their onions.
Do say: Smart controls will save you money.
Don’t say: Boilers controlled by phones? Whatever next.
Find Plumb Center on Twitter: @plumbcenterUK.