Homeowner Nick Thurlow explains how his installer helped him to achieve comfort and energy efficiency in his period property with a smart thermostat.

There are around 500,000 listed buildings in the UK, each with distinctive design features reflecting the architectural trends and construction capabilities of their time.

While owning a period property undoubtedly has its perks, it often comes at the expense of energy efficiency. A conservation officer at the local council must approve any modifications to a listed building’s structure, making implementing energy-saving features such as double glazing or cavity wall insulation either impossible or very costly.

That is the predicament one homeowner faced with his 16th century cottage. Unable to make any structural changes but keen to reduce his energy consumption, Nick – a Managing Director from Berkshire – was at a loss until he consulted a heating engineer, who surveyed his property and suggested he should try a smart thermostat.

Nick said: “Our home is a Grade II-listed, four-bedroom cottage with a thatched roof. It is outside the mains gas grid, meaning we rely on oil to fuel our boiler, which is not particularly new. Given the age of our system, there was no central thermostat installed – the only way we could change the temperature was by adjusting the radiator valves, which meant it fluctuated quite a bit. 

 “The heating engineer suggested a Honeywell T6R wireless connected thermostat, as it has built-in technology that detects the inside temperature and works with the boiler to ensure it uses as little power as possible to reach and maintain the desired temperature.

“It also has a 7-day programming feature, which lets you divide the day up into slots, such as morning, afternoon, and evening, and have different settings for each. It means we can save energy by having the heating at a lower temperature during the day then, by the time we get home from work, it will be just right. 

“All we need to do is decide how warm or cold we’d like it to be at a particular time and the control does all the work. Instead of going from one extreme to the other, our home is now always comfortably warm. We were unsure if a modern thermostat would be compatible with our old boiler, but the installer made sure to check this before presenting us with any options. Without his involvement, we could have wasted our time and money on purchasing an incompatible product.”

The T6 range is compatible with 24–230v on/off and OpenTherm appliances such as gas boilers, combi boilers, and heat pumps for easy integration into existing heating systems.

Built-in optimisation features such as optimum start/stop and OpenTherm allow the thermostat and boiler to work more efficiently together, while TPI technology ensures the boiler fires for the minimum amount of time required to maintain the desired set point.

As a connected thermostat, the T6R can also be controlled from any location through the accompanying smartphone or tablet app and, if paired with Amazon Echo, Google Home, or Apple HomeKit, allows voice-activated heating control.

Nick continued: “The installer asked about our work schedules and I told him they change quite often, which is why he suggested a connected control. It makes travelling for work easier. If I know I’m going to be home early from a meeting, all I need to do is change a setting on my phone before jumping in the car and I know the house will be the perfect temperature when I get back. Although, I also use it when I’m working from home and feeling lazy as I don’t even have to leave the office to adjust the heating.”

With a number of challenges to overcome, and an array of smart thermostats to choose from, Nick relied upon expert consultation to help him select the right one. The engineer’s input, he says, was ‘invaluable’.

Andy Mansfield, Marketing Communications Manager at Honeywell, commented: “This demonstrates just how important the installer’s role is when it comes to specifying heating controls. Really getting to know the homeowner’s – and property’s – needs is crucial. With a number of ‘out of the box’ solutions now available through consumer channels, it is a misconception among some homeowners that heating controls are a DIY product.”