Accessible central heating controls

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? 

7. Simplicity 

  • 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.