A RECESSION is obviously a great time to launch a new business aimed at saving money for businesses and households. When the core product has the simultaneous benefit of saving the planet, all the lights turn green.

A RECESSION is obviously a great time to launch a new business aimed at saving money for businesses and households. When the core product has the simultaneous benefit of saving the planet, all the lights turn green.

So it has proved for HeatingSave, which took last year's Hunts Post Huntingdonshire New Business Award for its eponymous PC-based control system.

The judges said managing director Nigel Smith, the founder of HeatingSave, was 'definitely a man with a plan'.

"The plan was to bring to the market a timely and innovative product and it being implemented successfully. Prospects of achieving profitability by the end of year two, having paid back substantial research and development costs, are excellent."

He is certainly on track, with extensive sales already and further opportunities opening up. What's more product development has refined and extended the company's offer.

By ensuring that heating and hot water are switched on only when needed, it drastically reduces the output of installed heating systems.

And it learns the characteristics of the buildings it is controlling. So, if you want the heat in a room or suite of rooms to be at 20.27 degrees from 8.31am until noon, the computer algorithm quickly learns whether it needs to come on at 8.11 or 8.15 and can shut down at 11.42 or 11.50 to maintain the required temperature over that period.

Software engineer Mr Smith set up the parent company Tensor 25 years ago to specialise in computer-controlled security systems.

HeatingSave uses similar software overlaid with an energy-saving algorithm written by company boffin Dr Paul Jones.

The simplicity is that it replaces the controller - no plumbing is involved. As Mr Smith points out, nearly every heating system in the country is controlled by technology that is more than 100 years old - a bi-metal thermostat and a clock.

"More than 90 per cent of households use old-fashioned thermostats and 24-hour time clocks, technology that has been around since 1908, more than a century ago. All that has changed is the price of energy."

The system includes PC software that enables anoraks to plot the energy savings as they happen. "Once you've set it up, which doesn't take long, you can forget about it."

Now the system has been extended to embrace solar heating - which HeatingSave is also now selling - and lighting, ensuring lamps are not left burning unnecessarily.

"Because it's managing everything, it can do it efficiently, because the left hand knows what the right hand is doing," Mr Smith told The Hunts Post. "It can even control swimming pools."

Additional features added on to the scheme allow users to say a particular room is too hot or cold, and the system learns their preferences and fine-tunes the algorithm.

The latest customer is the National Trust, which is installing HeatingSave in a property in Wales. If the trial is successful, the trust has another 400 properties in which it can use the Hail Weston company's kit to save hundreds of thousands of pounds.

Several police forces - which already use Tensor's security equipment - have embraced the new money-saving device. But the Cambridgeshire force is not yet among them.

The firm has introduced a rental scheme for schools, which can save far more than the rental cost without the capital outlay.

"We have written to Michael Gove, the Education Secretary, to tell him how much money schools could save in this country.

"We reckon 80 per cent of the 30,000 schools need a system like HeatingSave. If only half of them installed it, that would save around £9billion a year. It's staggering. But we haven't had a reply yet."

He is confident of retaining his market lead. "We are better than our competitors, where we have them. We have to be," Mr Smith said. "But there is still nobody competing directly with HeatingSave."