While smart thermostats (supposedly) enable you to intelligently heat your homes and potentially save money, they only replace the dumb controls you had previously. Your boiler, the focal point of all the pipes that run across your home, hasn't really enjoyed the same level of innovation. British Gas, maker of the Hive thermostat and various smart home sensors, believes it can change that with the launch of "Boiler IQ," a new technology that can self-identify issues and alert engineers of a possible fault before things get really bad.
With 8,000 engineers making over 50,000 visits daily, British Gas already has enough people on the ground. Now it wants to deploy them in the most efficient way possible. Co-developed by the Hive Connected Home team and boiler maker Worcester Bosch, Boiler IQ connects to the internet via the Hive hub, a smart home router of sorts, and will send an SMS when a heating or hot water fault is detected. It's a simple solution that doesn't require any apps.
If you don't get in touch with British Gas within an hour, a representative will then follow up to schedule a time for an engineer to come and fix it. In theory, Boiler IQ's sensors will diagnose the precise fault, which enables an engineer to arrive with the correct parts and fix it the first time, reducing the need for a repeat visit.
The technology was inspired by ex-NASA scientist, Adi Andrei, who now serves as senior data scientist at British Gas' Connected Home division. Andrei previously designed software to identify safety faults inside passenger aircraft. When installed, the system continuously sends live data back to British Gas, allowing the company to keep a fault history -- useful if you're experiencing a number of intermittent faults -- and possibly detect manufacturer defects.
Currently, Boiler IQ is compatible with roughly 2 million Worcester Bosch boilers in the UK but the company is currently in talks with other manufacturers to expand the technology. It'll go on sale to British Gas HomeCare customers (who own a supported boiler) from 21st March 2016 and will cost £49 for installation, with a £3 monthly fee on top.