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Save money with smarter home energy

Discover how HIVE and its range of smart home products can help you save time, money and energy at home.

With home energy bills soaring, new research suggests Britons see their heating bills as their biggest opportunity to save money. And the secret to cutting costs may lie in using heating more efficiently rather than simply switching it off.

New research, conducted by Hive, the maker of devices for smart homes, reveals that more than three-fifths of Britons have already been affected by the cost-of-living crisis, and nearly seven in ten are worried about their bills as they move into the winter months.

In Hive’s research, 42% of those hit by the cost-of-living crisis said they had already started to use their heating less to save money.  This was the most popular money-saving measure, ahead of switching to cheaper grocery products.

With soaring energy costs to blame for a large chunk of this year’s inflation, such a response is understandable. Indeed, more than half of those taking part in Hive’s survey said just thinking about their heating bills now makes them feel anxious.

However, as the coldest part of the year draws near, using the heating less will become a less palatable solution for households. In many homes, turning off the heating even though the house is not warm enough could put people’s health and wellbeing at risk.

How, then, to balance the need for heating against its cost? One answer, argue companies such as Hive, will be to use smart devices to reduce consumption. Smart thermostats, in particular, give people greater control over their home heating systems – and the ability to manage heating so that they stay warm while keeping a close eye on costs.

Smart thermostats offer several potential benefits in this regard. For example, they enable homeowners to adjust their heating from a mobile phone or tablet, whether they’re at home or somewhere else. So, if you’re coming home earlier or later than usual, or the weather changes while you’re not at home, you can adjust the temperature in your home remotely and avoid wasting energy.

Also, smart thermostats enable homeowners to control heating in different parts of the house much more easily. If there are rooms you know you won’t be using on a given day, you can use your smart device to shut down the heating in these areas in order to reduce consumption.

In addition, smart thermostats offer a constant read-out of the house’s energy consumption. That makes it much easier to manage home heating; you can adjust the settings – perhaps turning the thermostat down slightly – to see how that affects your bills. You’ll also get data on your energy usage over time so that you identify areas of potential improvement.

Some devices are especially sophisticated. They use “geofencing” technology to recognise when people enter or leave the home and turn the heating on or off accordingly. They provide alerts when there’s a problem with the system that might be causing inefficiency. And they recognise when an intervention may be needed to protect the system – when frost threatens your pipes, say – and switch on to avoid the risk of an expensive failure.

The collective impact of these benefits is often surprisingly large. In one recent study based on average annual energy consumption, Hive found that by installing a new thermostat, people could save more than £300 each year on their bills.

Some of those taking part in Hive’s study are already beginning to see such benefits. More than a quarter of Britons who already have a smart thermostat said the device had helped them to reduce their bills.

The biggest benefit identified by these homeowners was the simplicity of controlling when the heating comes on, with 81% pointing to this advantage. More than seven in ten had found it useful to be able to control their heating remotely, so they never had to pay to heat an empty home. More than half liked being able to see different temperatures around the home, and more than a third were enthusiastic about being able to turn the heating on from different rooms.

The bottom line is that smart devices could provide a way for Britons to manage their heating more effectively this winter – and therefore to keep bills down without having to get cold or jeopardise their wellbeing.

If you’re struggling with your energy bills, always contact your energy provider to see if they can offer any assistance. They may be able to review your bill and payment plan or have hardship funds available. The British Gas Energy Trust is an independent charitable trust set up to support families and individuals facing financial hardship and fuel poverty across England, Wales and Scotland. There’s help available whether you are a British Gas customer, or with a different supplier.

• Discover how HIVE and its range of smart home products can help you save time, money and energy at home: www.hivehome.com

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