You know what it’s like.
You’re all comfy on the sofa, absorbed in a great TV programme, and then you realise that you’re a bit cold.
You could scramble out from under your cosy blanket, move your drink aside and wander ALL THE WAY into the freezing cold kitchen to turn the heating on.
Or you could simply tap a couple of buttons on your smartphone, and turn the heating up to your idle heart’s content.
This – it should be said – is not the official way to use British Gas’s new HIVE heating control system – but it is a rather handy feature.
Officially speaking, Hive is a device that can be attached to most domestic boilers, allowing you to control your heating and hot water remotely, via the Internet, when you’re not at home.
How does it work?
Well, once you order Hive, a British Gas engineer will come and install your system. It takes around 45 minutes and involves putting a thermostat control on the wall somewhere in your house (you can have it sitting on a shelf, if you prefer), and a small, wall-mounted box next to the boiler – this overrides your boiler’s existing controls. Finally, a tiny box plugs into the back of your router, which allows the whole system to connect to your WiFi. You don’t have to be a British Gas customer to order.
With all that in place, you can download the Hive app to your smartphone, and then log-in to your newly-Internet-enabled central heating using a unique user ID and password. If you don’t have a smartphone (or use a Windows Phone) you can also control the system via text message and browser. From there, you are master of the universe – or at least, your boiler.
- Set (or change) your weekly heating/hot water schedule!
- Turn your heating up or down!
- Turn your heating off if you’re home late!
- Turn the heating on if you’re coming home early!
- Adjust your heating based on the outside temperature at home!
Actually, it’s the last two things on that list that make Hive so ingenious – by providing you with a simple way to adjust the heating depending on your actual needs, British Gas reckons a typical user will save £150 on heating costs over 12 months – meaning Hive should pay for itself in not much more than one year.
There’s a lot to like about Hive. It’s relatively inexpensive, simple to use and it has some smart features – for example, you can set the heating to come on if a minimum temperature is reached, to prevent pipes freezing – or Hive will text you if temperatures drop while you’re away from home, to prompt you to turn the heating on.
I like the smartphone app and found it very intuitive – although I did find that it logs you out after use, meaning using the app means firing up webmail, searching for my user ID and password, copying them down, THEN opening the app, logging in and controlling the heating. Which was a bit of a faff, and means I only use the phone if I have to, to control Hive.
I love the control over the schedule that the app gives me – previously my boiler relied on a schedule that was the same every day, but now I can set the heating to come on later on Tuesdays when I’m out until 8pm, for example, and for it to turn on later on weekend mornings, since I’m likely to be in bed until at least 10am.
I won’t be certain until the bills come in, but I suspect these features alone mean that I’m using less energy since installing Hive. And – let’s not forget – I get to spend more time on the sofa.
Disclosure: I was provided with a complimentary installation of the Hive system so that I could write about it. If you’d like to buy Hive, you can order for £199 including installation from the British Gas website.