Simon Healy: Homeowner in Belfast

The property

Simon Healy lives in a 3 storey semi-detached Victorian building in a leafy part of East Belfast, built around 1885. It is a single brick construction with top floor dormer type ceilings. His heating system consisted of an oil-fired boiler and 25 radiators, and was almost 40 years old at the time of having Genius Hub installed.

Some minimal energy-saving features were in place already. The ground floor was insulated with Icynene insulating spray foam and some (but not all) windows were either double or secondary glazed.

How did you control your heating before installing Genius Hub?

Simon explains why introducing a zoned system using Genius Hub was an essential step in improving the heating system in his home. In particular, he had never previously been able to adequately heat his top floor, but the new system allowed him to get sufficient heat up to the top floor for the first time.

“The heating system had been installed in 1985. The oil-fired condensing boiler heated 25 Radiators, all controlled by thermostatic radiator valves (TRV’s) and a pressurised hot water system through a dual time-switch for  central heating and hot water. 

I basically had an all-on/all-off timer with no zones, except a separate flow to heat water which returned to the boiler via the heating return flow and thus bled return hot water into the radiator system even when heating  was off.

When the heating was on, the three radiators on the top floor never reached a temperature other than lukewarm. This was due to the fact that (being three storeys) the demand on the whole system when on, was too much for water of any reasonable temperature/pressure to reach the top floor rads. “

Simon explains why introducing a zoned system using Genius Hub was an essential step in improving the heating system in his home. In particular, he had never previously been able to adequately heat his top floor, but the new system allowed him to get sufficient heat up to the top floor for the first time. After much research, Simon found that the Genius system was the most cost-effective way to achieve significant energy savings in his home. 

Redesigning and installing a new heating system, which had been installed in 1985, would have involved enormous expense in re-piping  and zoning. 

Since the radiators were all approaching 40 years old, replacing them would have been an enormous job, never mind the building work involved. 

Another consideration was the cost of a longer term investment in making the building more thermally  efficient overall.

The Genius System offers the full control of the system down to each individual radiator, keeps the whole house at a minimum temperature  at all times and heats only the rooms/ areas that are required at that time. When I considered the best option, it therefore followed that there must be considerable savings as against the original system I described above.”

Having looked at a few of the other smart control systems on the market, most of them were only able to supply a limited amount of radiator valves  without having to connect a second controller. The Genius System could cope with the number of rads I have and  a few more if required.

I found that the reading material for Genius Hub was very comprehensive, and talking to Gaia representatives and indeed Genius Hub themselves clarified all my questions.”

Most notably, the full control it gives us– day and night. We visit family abroad and would prefer not to have to leave the boiler/ hot water on, even at low temperatures. The Genius system can either be turned off completely with the automatic frost protection set at 4 degrees (the Genius radiator valves will exercise themselves at regular intervals thus avoiding jammed pin valves), or left running in selected rooms at a low temperature, say 15 degrees. 

Secondly, we have also fitted motion sensors (the Smart Occupancy Detection feature) in some rooms, and this gives us added control and functionality.

Thirdly, the remote control of every aspect of the system can be monitored/ controlled from anywhere!  

Fourthly, the Genius Telephone/ Email Support works well– they can monitor your  whole system remotely.

Even before the cost of energy rocketed in recent months, I have calculated that the Genius System  has reduced my oil consumption from 3 fills of oil a year to 2.

The installation was quick and remarkably tidy, with little or no mess. It was a two-day job. In that time, the system was drained down, new radiator valve bodies were fitted to accommodate the Genius smart radiator valves, and the Genius controls system was fitted and commissioned.

There was an initial learning curve, where I had to get accustomed to the terminology.  Above all, I had to adjust  my preconceived ideas on central heating (having spent my career going from totally analogue to  totally digital systems, I am still somewhat digitally challenged). I have found the system very flexible and easy to use. It just looks after itself.

How would you rate your experience with Gaia Smart Energy, and would you recommend our company to others?

I found dealing with Gaia pleasant and reassuring. Not having had any experience with a smart-controlled central heating system, I was concerned about whether I had made the right decision. Joe dealt with my queries and questions with patience.

The installation was quick and remarkably tidy, with little or no mess. 

The response to my various questions etc. during the initial period after installation and, indeed, subsequently were promptly dealt with.  The telephone/ email support from Genius directly is easy to use and helpful – they can look at your system remotely and usually see  what is going on.

I have asked Joe to come once a year to inspect and check the system, change batteries etc. After his last visit to do this, I haven’t had to see him since!

Simon Healy