Central Heating Programmer

There are two key notions when it comes to managing energy consumption in a home: temperature regulation and temperature programming. Although a basic room thermostat is sufficient for regulating the heat a boiler produces by choosing a setpoint temperature, a programmer or programmable thermostat is essential for adjusting the temperature in your home depending on the time of day or the day of the week.

What is a central heating programmer?

Unlike a room thermostat, which sets a setpoint temperature without adjusting it over the course of the day, a programmable thermostat or central heating programmer lets you program the temperature according to the scenario. The programmer includes a clock and adjusts the heating to the time of day (daily programming) or the day of the week in the case of weekly programming.

A programmable thermostat therefore enables you to adapt the temperature in your home, and therefore the use of heating, based on when you're home or out, or even according to what you're doing, with programming that takes your sleeping hours into account.
Programmers are available for all types of heating: boilers, electric heaters, electric underfloor heating, etc. In all cases, by combining regulation and programming, a programmable thermostat lets you manage your energy consumption more effectively and be consistently comfortable in your home in accordance with your timetable and lifestyle habits.

Why install a central heating programmer?

Installing a central heating programmer connected to your boiler or electric heaters means you can accurately adjust the heating in your home.
  • Heating only when it's necessary
The French environment and energy conservation agency (ADEME) recommends heating your home to an ambient temperature of 19° during the winter. However, there's no reason to maintain this temperature at all times, particularly when you're not at home.

With a central heating programmer you can set up a program that takes your timetable into account, lower the temperature to 16-17°C while you're at work and increase it to a comfortable temperature just before you get home. If you're away for longer, the devices available usually allow you to set up specific programming. Similarly, there's no point wasting energy to maintain a temperature of 19° in your home at night, which isn't even advisable for a good night's sleep (the recommended temperature is 16°C). Basic central heating programmers have two programming modes: comfort and eco, while other more sophisticated products provide more options.

With weekly programming, a programmable thermostat takes your different habits into account depending on the day of the week. Are you never home at the weekend or do you instead stay home more at the weekend than during the week? Then you can adapt your heating accordingly.

Lastly, the major benefit of a thermostat that has a central heating programmer is that once you decide on the ideal temperature programme based on your usual schedule, you can set and forget. The temperature is adjusted automatically and your comfort is regulated naturally. The programmer controls your boiler and radiator automatically and you only have to adjust your programming on rare occasions, for example if you'll be away for a longer period of time.

The most sophisticated programmers also allow you to create one program per area to achieve a different temperature depending on the room. With an advanced regulation system (multi-zone programmers or programmable thermostatic radiator valves) you can have a comfort temperature of 19°C in the living room, limit the temperature to 16°C in the bedrooms, have 22° in the bathroom when you use it, etc. This zone-based regulation ensures comfort in your home and allows for genuinely personalised use of your heating.
  • Energy savings
Naturally, adjusting your heating with a programmable thermostat affects not only your comfort at home but also your energy consumption. Given that a temperature difference of just 1°C creates energy savings of 7%, programming is a guaranteed way to help you cut your heating bill.

According to the French environment and energy conservation agency (ADEME), a central heating programmer can help you save up to 15% on your heating bill and up to 25% if you combine it with an advanced regulation system such as thermostatic valves. However, note that these results are only achievable with a program that's carefully adapted to your lifestyle habits, and provided that your home is properly insulated to limit energy losses. Discover all our products

The different types of programmer

Different types of central heating programmers are available. The type of connection between the interface of your programmable thermostat and your heating system (boiler or radiators) determines the category each product belongs to.
  • Wired central heating programmers
A wired central heating programmer is the cheapest solution for controlling heating. It's also the most reliable solution, as the cable won't be affected by radio interference. Nevertheless, this means you have to run cables between the programmer and the heating installation. This needs to be carried out by a professional and also comes at a cost. However, if you're installing a programmer as a replacement for the same type of product, the cables are already in place and the position is suitable for the thermostat to work properly, it may be best to buy a wired product, which is cheaper than purchasing a wireless programmable thermostat.
  • Wireless central heating programmers
Of all the central heating regulation accessories available, wireless programmable thermostats are extremely popular because they don't require any cables and they're easy to install without needing to contact a professional, affix cables to the walls or make any complex connections. Installation is fast: all you need to do is connect the receiver to the boiler and the programmer communicates with this receiver by radio waves or infrared waves depending on the product.

Another benefit is that wireless programmers can be fitted anywhere in the home and repositioned, which is practical if you realise that the position of your thermostat isn't suitable or doesn't allow effective regulation (a heat source is nearby or there's an air current).

A wireless programmer is more aesthetically pleasing and discreet, although it's also more expensive than a wired model. Because this type of accessory uses radio waves, it also has the disadvantage of being sensitive to interference and you'll need to carefully consider the device's range when buying. A smart wireless programmable thermostat, which is even more practical in terms of comfort and personalisation, allows you to adjust your heating system remotely on your smartphone or tablet using a dedicated app. All you need is a personal Wi-Fi network with broadband wireless internet access.

This means you can change the ambient temperature wherever you are, make an adjustment if you've forgotten something or adapt the heating in unexpected circumstances, etc. A smart programmable thermostat allows you to set up different heating programmes according to your needs and lifestyle habits. For example, the Netatmo smart thermostat lets you control your heating in three separate modes: eco, comfort and night.

A smart programmable thermostat also offers other features: taking into account a home's insulation and the outdoor temperature, sending a notification when the wireless programmer's batteries are low, etc. Using your smart installation, you can also control your heating consumption in the app and view your personal history. This information will help you optimise your use of the programmable thermostat and save even more energy.

A small thermostat also allows you to control your heating system by voice using the voice assistants Apple HomeKit, Google Assistant and Alexa, making it even easier to manage your heating. If you like, you can even integrate your smart home thermostat into a home automation device, thereby incorporating your programmer into smart home management scenarios. For example, by programming a scenario into your home automation device for when you go out, you can switch the thermostat to eco mode, turn on an alarm system and switch off the lighting and any connected accessories in your home, all at the same time.

Why add smart thermostatic valves?

We've seen just how much a smart thermostat with a programmer can allow you to fine-tune the temperature in your home thanks to a personalised schedule and remote management. By combining the thermostat with a multi-zone regulation system such as the smart radiator valves from Netatmo, you can not only control the running of your boiler but also the heat that each radiator produces. This allows you to adjust the temperature room by room and you can even set up a heating schedule suited to each room in your home depending on how it's used. Although these accessories might seem expensive, the initial outlay will be quickly offset by the energy savings made every year.

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