The Hive Active Heating controller is the latest smart thermostat to hit the Irish market and it is currently available for free from Bord Gáis Energy.
Developed by British Gas, the first Hive Active Heating controller was launched in the UK three years ago and has since been redesigned, updated and won multiple awards.
Irish customers will likely have heard of Hive though ads from UK TV featuring catchy (and sometimes daft) jingles like:
"While you're embarrassing your daughter,
You can switch on your hot water,
Because with Hive you control your heating… from your phone"
The jingle makes a good point - one of the most compelling features of Hive, or any smart thermostat for that matter, is that you can control your heating and your hot water anytime, anywhere, from your phone.
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Hive is available to anyone, regardless of supplier, and normally costs around €299.
For your money, you'll get three pieces of kit, including the Hive Hub, Hive Thermostat and the Hive Receiver. There’s also an app for whatever smartphone you’ve got. And everything is fitted and checked by a professional installer.
Bord Gáis Energy is currently offering the Hive Active Heating system for free to anyone who signs up to one of its dual fuel deals and agrees to a two-year contract.
With its two-year deal, the supplier is also offering a 14% electricity discount and 8% gas discount across the full duration of the contract. At these rates, you'll pay about €1,648 for gas and electricity over the course of a year if you have average consumption. That's €58 cheaper than standard rates, which most people are currently paying.
On top of that, Bord Gáis Energy claims that you can save a further €120 a year on your heating bills due to the fact that Hive will help you reduce your consumption.
You’ll need to change your behaviour a bit and actually take advantage of Hive’s features, but they reckon a few simple changes will see your consumption come down by around 16%, which is pretty good.
Well, for starters, it’s rather beautiful.
It has a mirrored finish, looks a bit like a posh dimmer switch, and can be wall- or stand-mounted. You can also get frames in lots of colours so you can match it (or clash it) with the decor in any part of your home, which is a nice touche.
Smart thermostats are hot gadgets right now and Hive will face stiff competition in Ireland from the likes of the Nest Learning Thermostat, Climote and Pinergy Energy Services. And that means it’ll have to do way more than just look nice.
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The Hive Hub needs to be plugged directly into your broadband router, which will help you to operate it from anywhere, boost the heat on a cold evening, or put on the water after a sudden shower on the way home.
But that’s only half the reason the Hive Hub needs to be plugged in.
Hive does other interesting things too. For example, there’s something called Geolocation which can be enabled with the smartphone app. When it’s enabled, you’ll be asked if you want to turn off the heat once you’re (say) three miles away from home. And when you’re on your way back? It’ll ask if you want the heat back on again. Which is pretty zippy.
But here’s where things get fun. Hive is way more than just a thermostat that knows where you are. Certainly, Bord Gáis Energy is marketing the device as a thermostat right now, but, and it’s a big BUT, it’s really a smart home device. And it’s able to manage way more than just your heat.
Hive does lighting too. There are Hive Active Bulbs which you can screw into your light fittings like normal bulbs, and they connect wirelessly to your Hive Hub (the box that you plug into your router). And you can control these bulbs from anywhere using your smartphone app. Not only that, but you can control individual lights, set schedules, and set “moods” – which you can name, like Dinner, or Party, or even Halloween.
Then there’s Hive Active Plugs which work the same way as the lights and allow you to turn stuff on and off remotely. This is brilliant, and I’m sure those of us that rush out the door in the morning and worry that we’ve left the iron or the hair straightener on, would love Hive just for this feature alone.
Hive is even compatible with Amazon Echo – which means that you’ll be able to talk to your lights and your heat and tell them what to do… if you’re that way inclined.
Hive Active Heating should work for most homes, but not all. Here are the requirements:
That’s about it. And the good news is that it will be professionally installed, so you don't need to worry about any of the fiddling about.
Hive has taken the smart heating controller to another level, with a range of features accessed through a slick thermostat and multi-functional app which will give householders total control of their heating and hot water, from anywhere.
Then there’s Hive’s additional features and innovations that will bring customers one step closer to “smart home” status.
And of course there’s the money-saving aspect of the system. Bord Gáis Energy is providing Hive Active Heating for free to dual fuel customers on a two-year contract, there’s no monthly subscription cost, and they say you’ll save money on your heating too.
*Savings based on figures from Bord Gáis Energy and an annual gas consumption of 13,800 kWh.
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