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British Gas: Use your iPhone to control central heating away from home

British Gas: Use your iPhone to control central heating away from homeBritish Gas has launched its new Remote Heating Control service, letting you remotely control your energy output in the home when you’re out and about.

The Remote Heating Control connects wirelessly to the thermostat of your home and plugs in to your broadband (via Ethernet). You’re then able to remotely turn off devices you’ve left switched on in the home via a remote console on your PC or from your iPhone or iPad.

Dean Keeling, Managing Director of British Gas Smart Homes, said: “With the British weather as unpredictable as ever, remote heating control will give customers greater peace of mind by allowing them to schedule and adjust their heating on the go, so they only need to heat their home when they need to.”

British Gas research shows households that leave their boiler on when at work or during a weekend away spend on average £140 more a year on energy bills. So for the absent minded worker always leaving the boiler on, this is manna from heaven.

Alternatively in the winter months, you’d be able to prime your boiler to turn on an hour or so before you come home, meaning your domicile will be toasty warm the second you step through the door.

Here’s the rub though; set-up’s not cheap. You’ll need to have a British Gas engineer visit to install a compatible system.

Pay £149 to save £140

Installation costs either £149 when bought with a new central heating system or £199 for existing British Gas customers who are upgrading. Newcomers to the British Gas fold will need to pay £229 for the Remote Heating Control.

So even with the cheapest option, you’re not looking at making a saving on your investment for the first year.

This might not appeal to those renting in the short term but could be attractive to those who are in for the long haul. Over the years, the savings ought to add up, it’s just a question of how prepared are you to take that initial hit.

Compare this to E.ON, which its trialling a similar system right now. Estimated set-up costs for the E.ON Smart Plus Monitor – which connects appliances via Powerline-style Smart Plugs – works out at £144 at the most expensive (£6 a month for 4 SmartPlugs over a 24 month contract). E.ON’s product however is still being trialled and has yet to be launched in the UK.

Despite the initial cost, British Gas customers stand to save a bit of cash over the years with Remote Heating Control. The iOS app can be downloaded from iTunes now for free (link); we’re waiting to hear back whether or not Android and Windows Phone versions are in the pipeline (no pun intended).