British Gas has snapped up a firm that allows consumers to remotely heat and secure their homes.

The Big Six energy supplier, which is part of Centrica, has bought AlertMe, a business selling systems that allows users to control boilers, radiators, door locks and cameras away from the home.

British Gas already owns 21 per cent of the company and is paying £44 million to acquire the rest of it.

AlertMe describes itself as a pioneer in the "internet of things", in which smartphones and other devices connect to items which are used inside and outside the home.

It said: "The deal will create the UK's leading connected homes provider, by bringing together British Gas's ability to innovate for mass market consumers with AlertMe's next generation Internet of Things technology and expertise."

British Gas, which supplies around 11 million homes, said it will use AlertMe's technology to underpin its current products in this area.

It already sells Hive Active Heating system that allows customers to control their heating and hot water from their mobiles, tablets and laptops.

Nina Bhatia, commercial director for British Gas says: "We are very excited at the potential we've now got through technology, to help people manage their homes and lives more easily."

AlertMe currently serves more than 500,000 homes in Europe and the US. It was founded in 2006 and is based in London, but also has offices in Cambridge and the US.

Chief executive Mary Turner said: "AlertMe has been the pioneer in establishing and growing the Internet of Things commercially in the UK and USA.

"We have created a market-leading Internet of Things platform and a highly experienced team of technologists and operational capability, which together have given us proven ability to serve mass market customers."

Ms Turner added that the move gave the firm the chance to roll out its services to tens of millions of homes.

British Gas said other parts of the Centrica group in the US and Ireland would also take advantage of AlertMe's services.

Centrica is expected to unveil a 27 per cent fall in annual profits to £245 million from its residential energy supply business, which has been impacted by warmer weather, when it posts full-year results on Thursday.

Across the group, operating profit is expected to plunge 29 per cent to £1.9 billion, according to City estimates.