We have published about the Nest Learning Thermostat created when it was announced in October 2011, since then, the device has been updated with an iPhone app that allows remote controlling the Nest’s settings while on-the-go.
Today, a new comer in that space is made available in the UK, through the AlertMe platform in partnership with British Gas. Remote Heating Control is one of the various services delivered over the AlertMe platform that allows British Gas customers to monitor, control and automate various compatible devices in the home via a digital user interface and a personal log in.
Remote Heating Control only requires a home fixed broadband connection and is priced at £149 when purchased with a new central heating installation. It will cost £199 for other existing British Gas customers, £229 for new customers, and cost includes installation.
When I talked with AlertMe CEO Mary Turner and VP North America David Bercovich a few weeks ago, they assured me that one of the key values of the Remote Heating Control service is its ease of use from the smartphone. In fact, according to a study by University of California – Berkeley and the US Institute for Energy and Environment, a majority of people do not really use their existing programmable thermostats (see details in the list below).
I cannot try the service since I am based in the U.S., I guess it needs to be really easy and efficient to use, therefore people will be motivated to significantly save money and pay the extra cost for this application.
Mary Turner CEO of AlertMe says “Today’s typical consumer is time starved and cash limited. They are motivated by services that provide convenience without sacrificing comfort and efficiency. They’re already connected to most of the things that matter to them via the web or Smartphone. Remote Heating Control provides a first step in connecting to the home and in taking control of heating, which is a major expenditure in the home.”
See below some interesting energy-saving facts provided by AlertMe and British Gas:
- 58% of the energy used in UK homes is spent on space heating and therefore, according to British Gas, more efficient use can have the greatest impact.
- British Gas research shows that households that leave their boiler on while at work or away for the weekend pay on average £140 extra a year.
- A majority of people do not use their existing programmable thermostats: a 2010 US study by University of California – Berkeley and the US Institute for Energy and Environment found that 89% of consumers admit they rarely or never use their programmable thermostats to set a daily or weekly schedule.
- Following a recent TSB-funded (Technology Strategy Board) British Gas/AlertMe trial, 95% of participants found the AlertMe online dashboard easy and intuitive to use. Those with Smartphones logged in most regularly and one participant commented that “this will revolutionize the way we use home heating”.
So, unlike Nest, AlertMe starts from the online platform to connect the hardware rather than doing the reverse. In my opinion, this is smart, since people are now used to control all kind of activities from their smartphones and tablets. I hope that its partner British Gas is offering a beautiful thermostat device as well. I have not seen a picture of the BG thermostat that comes with the installation, but I doubt it.
What do you think, would you use such a application to save energy and money?