March 27, 2023

Europe has entered an power disaster and costs for electrical energy and fuel are skyrocketing. Charges of €1/kWh and €3,40 per m³ of fuel aren’t unusual. Persons are turning to their pals within the House Assistant group asking for assistance on methods to save power. With winter across the nook, they need an answer that they will apply earlier than it will get actually chilly.

The aim of this submit is to provide an summary of issues that Europeans can do to begin saving power and cash as we speak – even when they hire a house. The main focus is on properties utilizing radiators and a boiler related to a thermostat.

Heating is a sophisticated matter and you’ll most likely nonetheless have questions after studying this submit. Don’t hesitate to hitch the House Assistant group to debate methods to save power (do be certain that to look earlier than asking a query). Be part of us in the forums within the power class or come hand around in the #power channel on our Discord chat server.

Take control of your heating

Most of your energy usage goes into heating your house in the winter.

Gas is more efficient than electricity to heat your house, unless you have a heat pump. So don’t turn off your gas heating and replace it with an electric heater as it will cost you a lot more money.

There are two ways of saving energy with heating. The first approach is to invest in more efficient technology to generate heat and improve the home insulation to stay warm. Things like getting a heat pump, improving insulation and getting thicker windows. Those things are not achievable before winter kicks in, so they are out of scope for this post.

The second way of saving energy is to use less of it. Governments have been advising to lower the overall temperature of your home, but putting the temperature too low can get a little too cold. Instead, you can be smarter about how you heat your home by installing smart thermostats, temperature sensors and thermostatic radiator valves (TRV).

Photo of a Shelly TRV

Smart Thermostats

A thermostat works by measuring the temperature. If the current temperature is below the target temperature set by the user, it turns on the heating until the home is the right temperature.

If you’re renting your home, you can skip this section as upgrading a thermostat is generally not an option.

The way a thermostat can help you save the most energy is by controlling the boiler, and preferably the boiler temperature. Heating the water is what drives the energy usage, so you wouldn’t want the boiler to heat the water to a higher temperature than is necessary to reach your target temperature.

Thermostats measure the temperature from the thermostat device. If the thermostat hangs in the last place in your home that gets warm, it might be heating more than you need. A smart thermostat can help by allowing you to pair extra temperature sensors to report the temperature in different rooms in your home. This allows the thermostat to turn off the heating earlier.

An extra bonus feature of a smart thermostat with remote control is that you’ll be able to change the temperature if you realize that you won’t be home at the scheduled time.

If you’re going to be in it for the long haul and want the easiest solution, you should invest in a smart thermostat that is part of a heating/cooling ecosystem that also has an API. Optimizing heating energy use is complicated and not something Home Assistant is good at out of the box. Instead, let that be managed by the ecosystem. The API allows you to still observe and influence it from Home Assistant to integrate presence and other data points the ecosystem is not aware of.

If you want full control over every part of heating your home, you don’t need to take the ecosystem route and instead invest in locally controllable thermostats, temperature sensors and TRVs and tie them together with Home Assistant. Here is an example to get started.

Recommended thermostats

It’s hard to give a single product recommendation here because there are so many different heating configurations and we are not aware of a single solution that works best in every case. Always check if the thermostat works with your boiler or other heating system you might use.

Home Assistant core developer Frenck researched this topic a couple of months ago for his own home and settled on Plugwise. It controls his boiler and radiators and has a neighborhood API to combine with House Assistant.

One other widespread answer is Homematic IP. It too has a neighborhood API to combine with House Assistant.

Right here at House Assistant we desire units that work regionally. Any gadget that shops your knowledge within the cloud will finally want a solution to recoup the price of internet hosting your knowledge. It additionally signifies that if the corporate goes out of enterprise, the units are inclined to cease working. Nevertheless, we perceive that your precedence as we speak is saving power. If the above options don’t work properly to your residence, you can even think about Netatmo or Tado.

We don’t advocate Google Nest as a result of its ecosystem isn’t totally featured sufficient, because it doesn’t assist TRVs.

Thermostatic Radiator Valves (TRV)

A TRV will replace the existing knob on your radiator with a smart one. This works too if you rent: just swap the old knob back when you move out. Installation generally takes just 5 minutes.

A TRV works like the thermostat of your house, but at the level of your radiator: you set the temperature that you want to reach, and it will open/close your radiator to get to the controlled temperature.

Having a TRV allows you to tune the temperature in individual rooms based on your schedule and/or planned usage, like only heating up the bathroom in the morning and around bedtime.

TRVs should be used to opt a room in/out of heating. Because heating the water in your boiler is still the biggest use of your energy, you should not use TRVs to turn off all radiators in your home or to reduce the temperature throughout the home. This should be done at the boiler level (usually via the thermostat). Keeping your boiler at the right (and not too high) temperature required to heat your home to the desired temperature is the biggest energy saver move you can do.

Recommended TRVs

All three smart thermostats that we recommended are part of a product range that include TRVs. If you went with one of those, we suggest you stick to the ecosystem.

There are two devices that we recommend. Both work independently but also have a local API to allow plugging it into Home Assistant.

Shelly TRV

This device works standalone and does not require a hub. Battery life is claimed to be 2 years. It offers a local API and integrates perfectly with Home Assistant.

Buy Shelly TRV (affiliate hyperlink)

Aqara Sensible Radiator Thermostat E1

The brand new child on the block because it was simply launched. This TRV could be managed straight from House Assistant utilizing Zigbee or by way of the Aqara hub. The hub could be regionally built-in with House Assistant by way of the HomeKit Controller integration.

Note: The vendor claims the device will support Matter in the future. It is unclear from their documentation if the device will speak Matter over Thread or that it will require their hub to expose the device over Matter. Our money is on the latter as that’s how they do HomeKit too.

Buy Aqara Smart Radiator Thermostat E1

Automations that may save power

When you’re capable of management your thermostat and TRVs, you can begin to save lots of power by automating your heating. Under are 5 helpful automations to assist with this.

Wrap up

Sadly, there isn’t a golden answer to save lots of power that works for everybody in every single place. I hope that the above overview and suggestions will enable you by way of the winter.

If some issues are nonetheless not clear, don’t hesitate to hitch us within the boards within the power class or come hand around in the #power channel on our Discord chat server.