Honeywell’s smart heating setup is a lot like being God, but without all that business with beards and crosses.
This isn’t about habit-learning or clever automation, but about putting all the power in your hands: you can set schedules to control the precise temperature of each individual room of your home at every moment of the day and night, using either the tablet-like central controller or the Total Connect Comfort app.
The benefits for larger houses are obvious, in terms of both comfort and economy.
Add up all those motorised radiator valves, though, and it could be a big old investment.
DESIGN: ZONALLY CONNECT
Evohome is no longer the only zonal heating game in town – see also the excellent Tado system – but Honeywell has made some improvements since we first tried it out in 2015, including Alexa and IFTTT support and in-built Wi-Fi (so you don’t need a second router).
There’s also a new desktop app, though the smartphone version is all you really need. Key to the system are the special Wi-Fi-connected thermostatic valves fitted to each radiator you want to control – ideally all of them, though you can easily start with two or three and add more later.
There’s no fixed price for installation but getting all the hardware set up is definitely a pro job, and not a half-hour one.
SETTING UP: EIGHT DAYS A TWEAK
Setting your schedules for the first time is a strangely empowering nerd project.
Make the bathroom a couple of degrees warmer at morning shower time… make the kids’ bedrooms a couple of degrees cooler when they’re asleep but you’re still up, thus saving them from sweaty head syndrome… create a weekend schedule with warmer living areas during the daytime, and then engage it on a weekday by selecting ‘day off’ mode.
And of course you can save gas by putting the whole house into chilly ‘away’ mode when you go on holiday, then override it from the passport queue at the airport so everything’s back to normal by the time you get home.
The valves even learn how long it takes your rooms to heat up and cool down, and will adjust their timings accordingly.
PERFORMANCE: CONTROL YOURSELF
Honeywell reckons Evohome can knock anything up to 40% off your gas bill by not pumping heat into rooms that aren’t being used (there’s an urban myth that heating up a cold room uses more energy than keeping it warm all day, but that’s cobblers).
So, while it is expensive, this system might pay for itself quicker than you think. The radiator valves are small enough not to look clunky, and you’re unlikely to be disturbed by the brief whirring noise they make when opening and closing.
Each is powered by a pair of AA batteries, which should last around two years depending on how fiddly you make your heating schedules.
Obviously they don’t all run out at the same time, so you’re likely to be getting occasional warnings over the course of several weeks or months – best stock up on AAs before the winter chill hits.
The app: swiping hot
The tablet-like console for controlling Evohome is a clunky affair with a small touchscreen that isn’t always very responsive, but there’s very little you can do with it that the Total Connect Comfort app can’t handle anyway – and that app is a simple, easily navigable delight.
Tap on a room to select it then swipe up or down to set the temperature higher or lower; then choose how long you want this override to last before it reverts to the normal schedule; then take off that stupid novelty jumper and relax.
You can also edit the schedules themselves using the app, as well as engaging special programmes such as ‘day off’, ‘away’ or ‘economy’ (which reduces all room temperatures by three degrees).
It’s all the control you could possibly want, even when you’re not home.
Honeywell Evohome verdict
Being professional Stuff-ists, we have a natural inclination to prefer gadgets that cleverly do everything for us. Evohome isn’t really about that – so does that make it too old-fashioned to recommend?
Actually, that’s not the point. While the recent addition of Alexa and IFTTT support is a welcome step into the hands-free future, this is the smart heating system for people who don’t want to let the machines have any more control than is absolutely necessary – you’re in charge, you make the decisions, and technology’s job is to shut up and do as it’s chuffing well told.
If this sounds like you, Evohome might just be the system you’ve been waiting for.