The rise of smart thermostats, heating apps and intelligent central heating controls has been intensified over the last few years as mobile technology has improved. It’s now possible to have an array of intricate settings on central heating so that it matches exactly with the homeowner’s lifestyle. This means that people can control their heating while at work or set reminders to receive text messages asking them if they want to switch on their heating in advance of them returning home. This has been seen as a great leap forward in terms of the amount of control we have over our central heating systems and the potential for money saving on heating bills due to increased energy efficiency. However, until very recently, little has been said about the downsides of our central heating habits being controlled via the Internet, particularly regarding the data that our smart controls give out about us and our habits. Recent research revealed that some brands of smart control were sending unencrypted details out wirelessly, leaving the possibility open to hackers with the correct know-how being able to collect information about the residents. Many people have settings on their smart controls that are easy to recognise and simple to implement, labelling certain settings such as ‘At work’, ‘On Holiday’ or ‘Out’. On some controls, it’s also possible to receive a message when you are a certain distance from home. Obviously, this kind of unencrypted data falling into the wrong hands could prove to be a security risk as it has the potential to show when the resident is not at home. It’s common now for people to have WiFi routers that have a complicated pass and send any information encrypted, however this is not always the case, with many still having open or insecure internet access at home. The manufacturers of smart controls should not be reliant on the fact that people are using secure Internet connections and should be introducing their own data encryption as an added security measure. Some have implemented this, but it is not yet compulsory for manufacturers to do this, so there is still a way to go for people to be completely comfortable with using smart controls at home. Hopefully, all manufacturers will start to take the issue of data encryption seriously because smart controls allow users a great deal of flexibility to ensure a level of comfort at home that has simply not been possible in the past. Smart controls are still a relatively new technology so we hope that advances will continue to be made and the take up among the general UK population will increase. Article by Benjamin Clarke RELATED ARTICLES • The heating industry needs to embrace the smart control revolution 6th Mar 2015 • A small investment in modern heating controls can be a long term money saver 30th Apr 2015 • The rise of smart thermostats as an energy saving device 22nd Oct 2015
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