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Best smart heating bundles & deals for winter 2014

There’s more than a few smart heating bundle deals out there but which one should you go for? 

British Gas is naturally pimping out its very own Hive smart heating system while Npower is getting into bed with the Google-owned Nest. Meanwhile Scottish Power is offering its customers the chance to get a white labelled edition of Climote’s multi zoned heating and hot water control. 

We weigh up all of the benefits and drawbacks of each product and give you the essentials. For a more comprehensive breakdown of Hive, Climote and Nest and other systems check out our big smart energy round up here.  

Best smart heating bundles & deals for winter 2014
The Hive smart thermostat – sans jaunty ukulele jingle

British Gas £50 Hive discount + free installation

British Gas tariffs including the single fuel Fix & Fall March 2016 and dual fuel Fixed Price January 2017 currently give customers a £50 bonus off the regular asking price for a basic Hive unit. 

Priced at £199 to everyone else, Hive is available for £149 for British Gas customers. Installation is also thrown in for free too, giving you get everything you need to get going for less. 

In terms of money saving, British Gas claims that you can save around £150 a year with Hive. If you use the service wisely, you should in theory make that initial cost back within the first 12 months. 

Of course, the money you’ll actually save depends on how smartly you use the service – if you have it blasting the heating on at all hours it won’t save you a penny. Regardless of how much energy you use, the cost per unit of electricity won’t rise for the term of the contract. 

Best smart heating bundles & deals for winter 2014
Climote’s unit doesn’t require a WiFi connection to talk to your phone – it comes with its own embedded SIM card

Scottish Power Climote discount 

As with British Gas, Scottish Power doesn’t bundle Climote’s remote heating and water system in with any specific deals. 

All Scottish Power customers can you can instead opt to spread the cost of the Climote across 12 or 24 months if you’d prefer not to pay £299 up front – just as if you were buying a new phone on contract or SIM free. 

You can pay £66 up front and pay £9.94/month over two years or pay nothing up front and shell out £12.69/month. Either way, you’ll end up paying £304.56 at the end of the contract, a little more than what you would have paid if you coughed up for a Climote on its own. 

Installation is included with the offer and the engineer who visits will give you a demo of the Climote mobile app. Scottish Power says that on average you’ll be able to knock around 20 per cent off of your regular heating bill with Climote, but doesn’t quote a solid figure. 

Best smart heating bundles & deals for winter 2014
Nest wants to do more than control the temperature

Npower Intelligent Control – October 2016 with free Nest Learning Thermostat

Npower is bundling a free Nest thermostat – normally £249 including installation – in for free with its Intelligent Control – October 2016 dual fuel product. 

It’s claimed that you’ll be able to save around £150-£200 a year with Nest, although unlike Hive and Climote, Nest only lets you control heating remotely – it doesn’t let you control water temperature. 

As for the Intelligent Control tariff itself, this will fix all per unit prices until October 2016. As it’s a long contract you’ll need to be committed for the long haul but if you use your Nest intelligently you could save close to £400 by the time the price cap expires. 

Hive vs Climote vs Nest: Which is best?

The answer to that question depends somewhat on what you want to get out a smart home system. Both Hive and Climote allow you to control the heating in your home and the boiler. Nest currently only controls the heating. 

Nest and Climote also support zoned heating, which lets you turn up the temperature in specific rooms as opposed to the whole house. This potentially lets you save even more money – there’s no sense in heating up rooms that aren’t needed. If you find that it’s a particular bedroom or the living room that gets the coldest, a zoned system might be a better shout. 

Climote supports controls for the heating in two rooms – the main living room and one bedroom – and hot water out of the box. There are plans to increase the number of zones you can control with Climote but right now, that’s all you can do. Fortunately, you don’t need to buy any extra hardware to start doing this with Climote. If you want to set up an extra heating zone with Nest, you’ll need to fork out another £179 for a separate Nest thermostat. 

The good news for Hive fans is that British Gas’s research and development teams are working on adding support for zoned heating in the future. The bad news is it’s not available now and won’t likely be ready for a while. 

Another thing that might be of interest to you is the ‘Internet of Things’. British Gas, Hive and Climote all have one eye on the smart home horizon and each company sees its device as a kind of Trojan horse that will, in the future, be able to communicate with a multitude of other devices and systems. 

Nest is arguably closest to realising this vision. It’s launched a ‘Works With Nest’ programme for developers and devices and now services including the Pebble smart watch, Life360 and Rachio smart sprinklers can communicate with the Nest thermostat and smart smoke alarm. 

Both Hive and Climote spokespeople have hinted at similar ecosystems springing up around their hardware but it’s early days at the moment. 

If you’re mainly interested in the up front cost of everything and how much you could save with each system, here’s how the numbers break down. Note that annual savings are purely based on the estimates we’ve been given by each company and are not based on any data we’ve gathered ourselves.  

  Hive with British Gas Climote with Scottish Power Nest with Npower
Standard set-top cost £199 £299 (up front or spread across 24 months) £249
Discounted set-up cost £149 n/a Free
Estimated annual saving £150 20 per cent £150
Heating Yes Yes Yes
Hot water Yes Yes No
Zoned heating No Yes (max 3 zones inc. hot water) Yes (£179 per zone, max 10 zones)

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