Accessible central heating controls: seven top features
If you're buying or updating your central heating controls and you want simple, easy-to-use, or accessible controls, what choices are available?
We've found seven top accessibility features to look for:
1. Mobile controls
- Is the device wall-mounted and wired or battery-powered and portable?
- Can you use the device from anywhere in your home?
- Can you control the device outside your home via an app, a web-browser, by text or by email?
- Can you control the device using voice commands with a smart speaker?
- Does the device have geolocation features?
2. Hands-free controls
- Is the device compatible with your smart speaker or home hub?
- Are the voice commands easy to say and remember?
- Can you use voice control to access basic features like turning the heating on or off, or turning the temperature up or down?
- Can you use voice control for advanced features such as setting a schedule or turning automation features on?
- Does the device have motion sensor features?
3. Visual features
- How big is the display or dial and is it easy to read?
- Does the screen have a backlight?
- Are the buttons or controls lit with LED lights?
- Is the control interface a digital-only display?
- Is the control interface touch screen or touch-sensitive?
- Is there good colour contrast between the markings and their background?
- Does the device or app have visual verification or on-screen menu prompts?
4. Tactile features
- Has the device got tactile markings or Braille on the control interface, such as raised markings on the dial which line up with the settings?
- Does the dial or buttons have tactile clicks when turned or pressed?
- Does the dial have a clear start and stop point?
- Does the device provide tactile verification?
5. Audio output
- Does the device have an audible click when the heating is turned on or off?
- Are there audible tones or clicks on the buttons or keypad?
- Are there different tones or clicks for different settings?
- Can you use the device with a smart speaker or virtual assistant?
- If the device has an app, is it compatible with your screen reader, and are the buttons clearly labelled?
6. Dexterity features
- Are the buttons or dials easy for you to press, turn or grip?
- How sensitive are the controls?
- Is the user interface touch sensitive? Is it a touch-screen?
- How heavy is the device to pick up or hold?
- How easy is it to use basic features like turning the heating on and off or up and down?
- How easy is it to used advanced features like setting a schedule or using automation?
- Does the device or app have on-screen prompts or instructions?
- Does the heating control have to be professionally installed or set up?
- Can the device learn your routine and program itself?
These are the top ease-of-use and accessibility features RiDC researchers found when testing heating controls with our consumer panel.
If you'd like to take part in our research, join our consumer panel.