The art of specifying heating controls

Published:  19 December, 2016

Heating controls have been placed firmly on the map thanks to a series of high profile product launches, media coverage and the onset of connectivity in the home. However, there is no ‘one size fits all’ solution when it comes to modern heating controls. So, how do you go about choosing the right control for your customers, which will still deliver all of the necessary comfort and energy-saving benefits?

Here, Andy Mansfield shares some pearls of wisdom on how to navigate the specification process. After all – a happy customer means less costly callbacks, a solid reputation for the installer and more chance of repeat and word-of-mouth business.

Know the property

When starting the process of specifying heating controls, carrying out a full site survey is crucial. Spending time to review everything from the size of the property, to the age of it, the layout, the number of rooms and configuration of the existing central heating system, will go a long way towards helping you make initial decisions about which ranges of heating controls will be suitable, and help you narrow down the choices from there.

It sounds obvious yet, when time is short, it can be one of the first things to slip. As the vital first step to giving your customer the heating controls they want and need, installers need to make time to complete this process. Today’s homeowners are more informed than ever about products available to them and often have preconceived ideas about which heating control they want, so having a good knowledge of their property will help you offer valuable consultation on whether this is the right choice for them.

 

Know your customer

Equally as important as knowing the property, is knowing the homeowner. Today, whether connected or not, heating controls are designed to work around a consumer’s lifestyle and include several layers of ‘smart’ to deliver comfort and cost-saving benefits for any customer. Being able to recommend the right heating control relies on knowing how and when the homeowner will use it.

Do they work from home? Are they away from their house for long periods of time? Do they have changeable shift patterns? Is the property mutli-occupancy and if so how and when is it used? These are all good questions to answer when going through the specification process.

Getting to know the customer themselves is also highly recommended. Communicating with them will help you to gauge whether or not they are tech-savvy, and so whether a connected heating control system be the right choice for them.

Perhaps they want to engage with their heating control or would they rather it did all the work for them – in which case the latest range of programmable thermostats would be a better fit.

Is a connected home something they would like in the future but not now – if so, an entry-level, scalable thermostat is probably the one for them.

Do they know how a heating control works and what benefits it delivers? If the answer to this is ‘no’, then a smart, entry-level programmable thermostat may be the best solution. Answering all of these questions and more will help you narrow down further the recommendations you make.

Know the range available

Being able to advise on any of the above relies on the installer having a knowledge of all heating controls available on the market. Today, there is a heating control to suit every homeowner and the good news is – they are all smart. Whether connected to the internet or not, good heating controls include several intelligent functionalities from OpenTherm, to TPI and even geo-fencing technology to deliver the best in comfort and cost-savings. As an installer of today (and tomorrow), you need to be aware of all models available and make it your business to keep on top of the latest product releases so you know your evohome from your Lyric T6, and your Single Zone from your T4 series.

Know how to use them

The final piece of the jigsaw, knowing and understanding how to use each heating control and what each of the functionalities within them does – as well as being able to pass this knowledge onto your customer. For an installer, this all comes down to training and upskilling. A heating control is only as efficient as its user, and it’s your role to explain this to a homeowner.

Some of the latest heating controls require minimal user interaction for the less savvy or time-poor customer, whereas others thrive on being used. Knowing which is which and how to get the best out of each is a vital part of specifying the right heating control for you customer.

Andy Mansfield is marketing communications manager at Honeywell

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