Moving house is one of the most stressful times of your life. Up there with your wedding and starting a new school or job, you’ve got enough to worry about without where the things are going to go, what the parking is like and if the lights work adding to your list.
With all kinds of forms to sign and people to meet at certain times in certain places, anything that makes life easier is a Godsend. Like with most things these days, the answer appears to be on your smartphone or tablet. There are now a number of apps designed specifically to take the stress out of moving house, and here are just a few of the best:
If you’re only going to download one app to help with your house move then let it be this beauty; Moving House. Not only does it allow you to craft to do lists to help you remember what you’ve packed, what time your new furniture is being delivered and when u-ship are coming to help you with your furniture removal but is also preloaded with more obscure tasks that often get forgotten.
When you have loads on your mind let this app take some of the strain. Its cool open and closed box icons let you know when you’ve completed a task, which is another nice touch. This app is useful for the weeks running up to D-Day, to the actual day itself and following that, a handy tab for the weeks following. This app transforms the most scatty individual into an organized machine, a must have.
Royal Mail-Moving Checklist
This offering from Royal Mail is very impressive and a wealth of information as well as helpful hints and reminders. As do all of the apps, it has a list making feature, but more importantly it has help and advice on where to source items for your new home as well as details on the local amenities near your new home and also information on how to change your address with all of your service providers in one easy step.
This app is a real gem, other useful features are the ‘home progress’ dashboard as well as the count down to moving day and how many tasks you have left to complete.
My Mortgage Mate
This app is a blessing when deciding on budgets and mortgages as well as the financial aspects such as interest rates. Formulated for the UK market this clever tool calculates stamp duty as well as estate agents fees and repayment plans. Easy to use with an immediate response making the house hunting task bearable.
This is especially great for first time buyers who don’t have much experience of the housing market or the rates that accompany it. You are also able to take into account your monthly salary, this app really does do all your calculations for you, letting you see which houses are within reach.
This is the conclusion to a series of articles in which I explored Remote Heating Control – a technology of the future. Learn more about this series by reading the introductory article, called stepping into the future of smarter living.
Three months ago, I wrote an article in which I told you how British Gas had approached Technology Bloggers and asked if I would like to have Remote Heating Control technology installed for free, to test the technology as part of their don’t take our word for it (DTOWFI) campaign. Remote Heating Control is a technology of the future, and therefore they wanted reputable bloggers to test it out and give their honest feedback in order to help people (consumers) understand the pros and cons of getting the technology, and just generally what it is like to live with an intelligent (or smart) heating system.
Now my part in the DTOWFI campaign is coming to an end – this is the final article in my series. In this article I am going to summarise my journey with the technology, highlight the advantages and disadvantages and give you my honest feedback as to my experience of Remote Heating Control.
I hope that home-owners (potentially you) will be able to use this series to evaluate whether they feel they would benefit from installing Remote Heating Control.
Installation – The Start Of The Journey
My journey with Remote Heating Control started on Thursday the 16th of August, when a British Gas engineer called Nick came to my house and set up the hardware I would need to run the technology.
My British Gas smart linked thermostat
First Nick installed a wireless receiver near to my boiler. Then he removed my old thermostat and replaced it with a band new LED display, smart linked thermostat. Finally Nick installed a wireless hub which I plugged into my internet router. These three devices now communicate with each other and between them and the myHome internet portal, determine what my boiler should be doing. Clever huh?
In the next article I discussed what my first impressions of Remote Heating Control were. I explored the myHome online interface, from which I was able to control my heating online. Once I had my login credentials, it was easy to login and navigate around the site.
I was impressed with the amount of data and functions that are available to me. For example, I can see what the temperature has been in my house over the last 24 hours, or the last week, or even month. I am also able to see a weather summary, letting me know what the temperature has been like outside recently, and what to expect in the near future.
At the time of writing article three, I was yet to use the technology on a daily basis, as it was mid-September and still relatively warm.
Setting Up A Heating Schedule
Two weeks later (early October) I published my next article, in which I let you know how I found setting up a schedule for my heating. In summary, it was really easy, I just had to choose what temperatures I wanted my house to be and when, and then drag some sliders accordingly to make a rather complex, but easy to understand, schedule.
My heating schedule
My heating is now designed to fit around my daily variations in lifestyle. I get up later of a weekend, so my heating doesn’t come on until later. I go to bed later on Friday and Saturday, so my heating keeps my house warmer for longer. Instead of me having to adjust my heating to my daily life, my heating now knows what to do and when – meaning little need for interference from me. Check out the article for more on setting up a remote heating schedule.
From mid-October, I was using my heating on a daily basis, however unlike last year, I wasn’t turning it on and off daily, or controlling it via the thermostat. My heating was doing all the hard work for me, turning itself on just before I woke up/got home, and turning itself off when I went to bed/left the house.
But what happened when my life didn’t fit perfectly around my heating schedule? Say I knew I was going to be home 20 minutes early, would I have to come home to a cold house? No I wouldn’t, thanks to the myHome smartphone app! It was really easy to download and install, and after logging in with my normal username and password, I was able to instantly adjust my heating. Quite literally I could change the temperature to 18°C and in the 10 minutes it took me to get home, my house would have warmed up.
I have found that there is nothing wrong with using my smart linked thermostat (my houses internal thermostat) to control my heating, it works very well in fact, however I just don’t seem to be using it. My heating schedule seems to be regulating things rather well for me, and when I want a change making, a quick alteration on the app, or a text is often much faster and easier.
For more on my views of what the technology is like to use, check out the: using Remote Heating Control on a daily basis article? The article also contains more information about the myHome online portal, what can be found there, what you can control etc.
I recently had the thought, what if I were to go on holiday? My heating is set to a schedule, which I would have to change. I wouldn’t want to have to change the schedule just for my holiday and then reset all the temperatures and time periods when I got home. Well I wouldn’t have to.
All I would need do is login to the myHome app and set my heating to ‘OFF’. It is usually programmed to ‘Auto’ which means stick to the schedule, but were I to set it to ‘OFF’ then it would just lie dormant. When I get back, on my way home, a quick SMS of ‘HEAT AUTO’ or just setting the heating to a specific temperature via smartphone or text message would get my house lovely and warm for my return. It seems that there isn’t much that this technology can’t handle!
Basically if there is going to be a disruption to your ordinary daily life, and you don’t want your heating to be wasting money on unnecessary heating, you can effectively stop the schedule. Likewise if you want your home to be hotter than it is you can override the schedule for that period.
One of the key factors in the technology for me is the money. I want to be green and save gas, whilst at the same time use the technology to help me save money. So, do I think that Remote Heating Control will save me money?
I haven’t any bills to compare yet, and the weather does vary year on year anyway, so it is hard for me to tell, but from what I have seen so far, my honest answer is yes, I think that the system will save me money.
The way I have programmed my system, it stops my house from getting really cold when I am not there, so it should take less gas to warm it up when I get home. Also the fact that I can instantly change the temperature via the internet, or my phone mean that if I am out of the house, I am still in control, whereas before I couldn’t be. Therefore any mistakes I make – like leaving the heating on when I am going out – I can fix before my boiler burns away my money heating an empty house.
I am really pleased that British Gas asked me to become a part of the DTOWFI campaign, as it has not only given me an insight into the future of smarter living, which I have been able to share with you, but also an amazing system which I now use to control my heating with.
I would personally recommend the technology, as I feel it has the potential to save me a lot of money, whilst helping me limit my environmental impact, at the same time as letting me live slightly more comfortable.
Thank you very much for following the series, I hope it has been interesting and educational. I also hope it has been useful to people who are considering getting a Remote Heating Control system.
I would also like to say thank you for all the comments I have received on the articles during the course of the series. I am more than happy to answer questions and give my opinions, just ask anything you may have either on the relevant post, or below.
My final thank you goes to British Gas for letting me test out a technology of the future.
This is the third in a series of articles in which I am exploring Remote Heating Control – a technology of the future. Learn more about this series by reading the introductory article, called stepping into the future of smarter living.
So far in the series, I have introduced Remote Heating Control technology, its capabilities and potential, and discussed the installation process, with specific reference to my installation. In this article I will be sharing with you my experiences and first impressions of using the technology.
Logging In For The First Time
Remote Heating Control really is a technology of the future. Why? How many parts of your home can you currently control via the internet? Probably non. In the future I believe that most of our home will be remotely controllable. Technologies like smart meters and Safe and Secure are all linked to the internet, meaning that you can secure your home or see what electricity you are using remotely. These are two new technologies which will also be making their way into our homes very soon, and are part of the future of smarter living.
So Remote Heating Control is a technology of the future, as you can now control your heating online.
To login to my heating (I know, at first it sounds a little odd and at the same time cool ‘logging in to your heating‘!) I have to go to this URL: https://myhome.britishgas.co.uk
This URL is British Gas’s myHome homepage, which is the portal that I will log into to change/check my heating. It is also the portal you would visit if you have Safe and Secure technology installed at home.
Basically, myHome could soon be where you go to control your homes heating and security.
myHome – where I now go to check and change the temperature of my house
I was given a handy User Guide by Nick (the British Gas engineer who installed my technology) which has been very helpful, as it contains practically everything I need to know about remotely controlling my heating. That said, as I am relatively technical and have found that as the interface is so easy to get to grips with, I have rarely had to refer to the User Guide.
After logging in for the first time, like I explained in my previous post, I had to get the devices to find each other. This is usually all done online, so you don’t need to actually change the device setup at all, the portal just connects to your devices and then synchronises them.
In my case it had been a while since my installation before I got round to setting up my online account. This meant that my smart linked thermostat had fallen out of pairing mode, so the hub was unable to find it. British Gas were more than helpful in getting me up and running, and I was given a personal contact (engineer Steve Plumb) who helped me get my system working. Being a techie, I took the initiative to see if I could get the smart linked thermostat homing again myself, by taking the batteries out, and then putting them back in again – hence restarting the device. It worked. I have no doubt that the phone call I had scheduled with Steve would have helped me solve the issue just as fast, but it felt good to solve it myself.
After all my devices were connected, I was presented with a four step tutorial, which explained how to use the technology.
The first step was a quick guide to the SMS control function. It let me know the commands I would need to control my heating when not in the house, or near an internet connection.
The next step gave me a link to download the app (iPhone and Android) that I can use to control my heating via smartphone.
Step three explained the homepage of the console, what everything meant and how I control my heating instantly – i.e. if I decide to make my house hotter/colder than my scheduled plan.
The final step gave me an explanation of how to set up a heating schedule.
When I login to myHome, I am now presented with a very interesting screen, which is filled with data and options. At the top of the screen are some navigation links, and then taking centre stage are two main boxes: temperature and heating.
myHome homepage – where I control my Remote Heating Control from
The temperature box lets me know the temperature inside my house at the moment (rounded to the nearest degree) along with the weather and temperature outside too. It also shows me the average temperature in my home today, and this week.
If you look at the image above you will see that my home must be pretty well insulated, as I am yet to have the heating on, and despite it being 17°C outside, inside it is a comfortable 19°C. The average temperature for my house today is 19°C, and in the last week it has been 20°C.
The heating box tells me the exact temperature inside my house right now to one decimal place – the same reading on my smart linked thermometer (18.5°C).
If I click on the temperature box it takes me to a page where I can view diagrams of what the temperature in my house was like over the last day, week and month. Very interesting and handy when setting a schedule
If I click on the heating box I am taken to a page where I can set up a day by day heating schedule. The weather seems to be pretty mild (at least where I live) at the moment, so I haven’t yet set up a heating schedule, as I don’t really need my heating on, so more on this next time.
Overall I am very pleased and impressed with my new online heating portal myHome. It is very well designed, is easy on the eye, and makes me heating seem a lot easier to control. I look forward to using the technology in the next week or so as the weather gets colder.
In the fourth post in this series (launching on Friday the 5th of October) I will be exploring how remote the technology really is. I will discuss how to set up a schedule, and how easy or difficult I find that, along with how effective my remote commands are at affecting the temperature of my house, whether programmed via text, app, online or smart linked thermostat.