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Room thermostats

Buying guide

Room thermostats are normally fixed to the wall in one room of your house. You set the temperature that you want the room to be, and if it's too cold the thermostat sends a signal to the boiler to come on. Once the set temperature is reached, the thermostat tells the boiler to turn off again.

If you want your house to be a constant temperature, you shouldn't have to use it much. You will need to make more adjustments if you want to change the temperature frequently.

There are two types available:

  • Mechanical thermostats have a dial which you adjust to your chosen temperature.
  • Digital thermostats show your chosen temperature on a screen, sometimes alongside other information. You adjust them using buttons or a dial.

How much control?

Room thermostats can only sense the temperature of the room they are in – you can’t use them to vary the temperature between rooms. Use them alongside a boiler programmer to change the temperature over time, or use a programmable thermostat instead.

Saving energy

Turning down your thermostat by just 1°C could cut your heating bill by 10%, saving £55-65 a year on average. But don’t turn it down too low. Ideally, most rooms should be 21°C during the day, and bedrooms should be 18°C at night.

Once you have found a good temperature, you shouldn’t have to adjust the thermostat often. Turning it up won’t make a cold room heat any faster!

Think about...

  • The sound they make. Thermostats usually click when they start or stop 'calling for heat'. Hearing a click as you move the dial means you have passed the current room temperature. If you want to use this feedback, find one with a click you can hear or feel.
  • The dial. Look for one you can easily grip and turn.

Product reviews

Siemens RAA20-LDGB (£23)

Siemens RAA20-LDGB thermostatThis manual thermostat has no numbering – instead, there is a blue line (for colder) on the left of the dial and a red line (for warmer) on the right. A tactile mark on the outside of the dial shows the 20° point. The dial has a tactile pointer which you use to adjust the temperature.

  • Blue and red markings have good contrast and are easy to understand.
  • There are no temperature labels, so you can't tell exactly what you’re setting it to.
  • Tactile markings stand out, but their meaning isn't clear.
  • Clicks, but not very loudly.

Who is this suitable for? People who want to make basic temperature changes – 'hotter' and 'colder' rather than an exact measurement.

Score: 2 out of 5

Myson MRT1 Braille (£9)

Myson MRT1 Braille thermostatThis manual thermostat has Braille labelling on the dial, showing the 15°, 20° and 25° points. To set the temperature, you line these points up with a tactile marker outside the dial.

  • Some Braille readers liked the markings, but others found them too faint and difficult to understand.
  • The markers are at five-degree intervals, so subtle changes are difficult.
  • The visual labels are small with poor contrast.
  • Clicks, but not very loudly.

Who is this suitable for? Braille readers who want to make fairly simple temperature changes.

Score: 2 out of 5

Also tested

Rica last tested room thermostats in 2004. You can see the results of those tests in our previously tested section.

Last updated: February 2014

Main page: Product guides