Hive by British Gas review

British Gas lets you use your smartphone to control your heating and hot water

Improvements

The 120-strong Hive team operates separately from the rest of British Gas. This helps to give it a startup mentality, as it looks to constantly push out upgrades for the product.

There's an area in the app where customers can suggest product ideas they want to see. This makes you feel like part of a community and also shows you what the Hive team is working on.

Geolocation was the first feature to be suggested by users and implemented by the dev team. When activated this allows the app to notify you if your heating rises above or falls below a certain pre-set temperature when you're leaving home or entering the pre-determined vicinity. You can set the trigger area from anything between 700 feet to 50 miles.

At this time the most commonly requested feature is to bring the 'Boost' function to the heating system, create more scheduled events and create a dedicated iPad app.

Upon startup, the app is slow to sync with the Hive system. It typically takes 30+ seconds before you can do anything and this is something the dev team is working to improve.

The benefits

Based on smart meter research, British Gas claimed users could save up to 150 on their annual heating bills, simply because they have more control over their system. The firm claims 7.8 million homes are heated during winter every year when no-one in is. Not only does this lead to energy wastage but also higher bills.

Using the Hive Active Heating 'freeze protection' setting, instead of having the heating on throughout the day, users could reduce annual energy consumption by up to 29 per cent, the firm claimed in its 'Hive Energy Saving Report 2014'. So if you're guilty of leaving the heating or hot water running when you're out of the house just to make sure your pipes don't freeze in the winter, this is worth looking into.

Hive can also be used to remotely monitor and manage the heating requirements of elderly or vulnerable relatives.

Overall

Hive is an excellent system, which takes the hassle out of controlling your hot water and heating. You can do it from the comfort of your own bed, at work or even when your on holiday. The design of the app is superb, it's so simple that even non-tech savvy people will be able to pick it up.

Hive isn't cheap. It's available for a one-off 199 fee including installation. But it represents a good investment because the team is constantly pushing out free upgrades. So far 100,000 customers have signed up for Hive and it's easy to see why.

Verdict

If you've got an aged heating/hot water control system with poor or limited scheduling capabilities it's definitely worth looking into Hive.

- You need a traditional gas heating system and British Gas claims it works with 99 per cent of the UK's gas boilers. - There needs to be a working broadband connection and space in your router to connect the Hive Hub. - Ideally you need an Android or iOS device so you can control the heating system remotely via the Hive app, although it is possible to control it via text.

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