Smart home apps: what are they?

What are they?

Most smart devices (e.g. thermostats, lightbulbs, plugs, security cameras) are controlled by an app downloaded onto your smart phone or tablet. An app is a software application designed to run on an internet enabled device. Smart home apps allow you to have more control over your smart devices by giving you full access to them from your smartphone or tablet.  

What are their benefits?

Smart-home apps can provide enormous benefits for disabled and older users by removing the need to reach and manually operate their devices, actions which can often act as significant barriers for those with mobility, dexterity, or visual impairments.  

With a few taps on their smart phone or tablet, users can perform actions, which could otherwise be difficult for them, such as turning up the heating, turning lights on, switching on plugs, locking doors and even drawing curtains.

By providing users with more control over their devices, these apps can increase user independence and ability to control energy use and thereby reduce bills. However, users will only benefit from these apps if they are easy to use and accessible

What can these apps do to give you more control over your energy use and reduce your bills?

Below we list features that can help you get the most out of your smart home app, be more energy-efficient and save money.

We have grouped these according to heating, lighting, and switches and plugs.


  • Multi-zone control: control the temperature of different rooms via smart radiator valves.
  • Boost: override your schedule to turn the heating or hot water on for a short amount of time.
  • Program modes: set different modes (e.g. holiday/away, eco mode, frost protection) and customise your own.
  • Temperature reports: track your energy consumption by viewing reports or graphs of your past energy use.
  • Geolocation: allow the app to use GPS on your device or sensors in your home to detect when no-one’s in and turn the heating off (or down) and turn it on (or up) when you’re returning home.
  • Optimisation: works out the most efficient and timely way to heat your home to reach a chosen temperature setting.
  • Weather forecasts: indicates the outside temperature, humidity or provides a weather forecast to allow you to adjust your heating accordingly.
  • Weather responsive: adjusts the internal temperature according to the weather forecast or outside temperature.
  • Open-window detection: allow the app to detect if a window is open and turn your heating off to save energy.


  • Mobile control: turn lights in different rooms on or off on wherever you are.
  • Dimming: adjust the brightness of your lights on the app to save more energy.
  • Schedules: set your lights to come on at certain times on a particular day.
  • Geolocation: trigger your smart lightbulb(s) to turn off when you leave your home using GPS on your device or motion sensors.

Switches and plugs

  • Mobile control: turn your switches and plugs on or off wherever you are.
  • Actions: link your switches and/or plugs with motion sensors in your home via the app to make them turn off when you leave the room.
  • Schedules: program your switches and/or plugs to come on at certain times on a particular day.