Hive by British Gas review
British Gas lets you use your smartphone to control your heating and hot water
Engineers also need to upgrade the valve connected to the boiler and setup a hub so everything can communicate wirelessly.
As part of the package you also get a digital thermostat, which can be mounted in place of the original or anywhere in the home.
The British Gas engineers will also help you setup the Hive
smartphone app on your Android or iOS device and walk you through the
basic controls if you’re not tech savvy.
Controlling your Hive
Once downloaded the app is easy to operate and there’s an
option to have a tour of the features at any time. We’d recommend you
start off by setting up the Pin Lock on the app, just in case your phone
is lost or stolen and you don’t have a stranger taking control of your
Upon logging in you’re greeted by a large bubble in the middle of the
screen. This will give you the details of the heating or hot water. The
heating can be controlled manually or scheduled to come on at specific
The hot water controls work in the same way and have another
option. You’ll also notice the ‘Boost’ button located in the left bottom
corner. Pushing this will activate the hot water for 60 minutes and
then automatically switches it off: a feature we’ve been using
If you’ve ever tried (and failed) to manually schedule heating and water
with dated controls, Hive’s scheduling interface will be a revelation.
For those with a set routine, it could be a leap towards automation.
In case your Wi-Fi connection goes down or you can’t connect to the
system using the app, it’s possible to control Hive by sending text
messages to a dedicated number. This is ideal for when you might be on
holiday and not have access to Wi-Fi. There’s a command list located in
the app, and you can also get the list by texting ‘Heat Help’. There are
a total of 10 two-word commands available.
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
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.
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.
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.