With winter temperature setting in across the northern hemisphere, those heating bills are about to start heading upward as households try to keep warm. Of course, no one wants to spend more on heating, but then neither do they want to be too chilly. So what’s a family to do? Getting a good, accurate and programmable thermostat is the best way to ensure that you are saving money on your heating bills in the winter, as well as your cooling costs in the hot summer.
A new thermostat that uses modern technology is not just a luxury. It can actually save up to 20 percent or more on your heating bills and if you live in a cold climate, this quickly adds up to significant savings. Old thermostats can be inaccurate, difficult to regulate and not maintain the proper temperature. A new thermostat might be a little costlier up front, but the savings each month will quickly make it worth the expense. Besides, who wants to spend every evening and weekend being too cold in their own home?
Cut Household Your Energy Costs with one of the Best 3 Programmable Thermostats
Types of Thermostats
Before you start shopping for a new thermostat, it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with the different types that are available. If you have an older home or live in an older apartment, it’s likely that you have an old-fashioned mechanical thermostat, which is what you want don’t want. They’re cheap and simply use a version metal strip to sense the temperature and start the furnace. Each one of the updated types has its pros and cons, so consider which type might be best for you:
- Non-programmable – Although these thermostats might have a digital display, they are not what you’re looking for. It’s up to you to adjust the thermostat when you come and go, before you go to bed and when you get up. It’s easy to forget and that won’t help you save any money on your heating bills./
- Programmable types– These thermostats do the work for you by letting you put your heating and cooling on a schedule. Program the thermostat to go lower at bedtime when everyone is asleep and to come on before the family wakes, so that it’s not too cold when it’s time to get ready for school or work. You can also set it to match your work schedule during the week and to be a warmer on the weekends when everyone is likely to be home during the day. This takes the onus off you to change the setting and yields a big cost savings. That said, it’s still possible to override the set program if you’re at home and decide that you want it to be a little warmer or cooler.
- Wireless products– This is a type of programmable thermostat with all the benefits previously mentioned but it also allows you to give you the ability to adjust the temperature from your smartphone or another device. These might cost a little bit more but the added flexibility can pay off. If you discover that you’re going to be out for the whole day on the weekend, you can turn down the heat to save even more.
- Smart models – These are the most technologically advanced thermostats that have the ability to learn how high you like the temperature set and typically at what times. Once the system learns your preferences, adjusts the temperature throughout the day. Some models can even tell when there is no one moving around at home and adjust accordingly. These types ultimately will yield the greatest cost savings on your heating bill. George Brazil HVAC adds that smart thermostats can also have additional features that make them more attractive, such as Touch screen displays, voice control and dirty air filter alerts, along with more programmable schedules than basic models.
Using a Programmable Thermostat
According to the US Government’s Energy Star program, a programmable thermostat can save an average of $180 a year in heating and cooling costs. This. Is only true if the thermostat is properly installed and used in the most energy-efficient way. Studies have shown that many are not saving as much as they could because the thermostat is not being fully used as intended.
Of course, there are still some guidelines they suggest the following tips to make the most of your thermostat. and save:
- Use the energy-saving settings as much as possible for longer periods, like when no one is at home or while everyone is asleep. This yields the best savings.
- While you can override the setting, the more you do that, the less you will save.
- Boosting your heat to a much higher temperature doesn’t warm up the house any faster. The same goes for the summer when you want to make it cooler inside.
- If you have a zoned heating and cooling system, you’ll need the same programmable thermostat for each zone throughout the house.
- Houses with heat pumps are not able to use programmable thermostats unless you purchase one specifically made for use with a heat pump. Your HVAC specialist can make that determination.
Pros and Cons of Using a Programmable Thermostat
Lest you think that one of these new thermostats will save you piles of cash; you need to consider both the benefits and drawbacks of a programmable thermostat to make sure that it is the right choice for your family. Like anything else, it has its positives and negatives.
- Cost Savings. According to Noble Air, the obvious advantage of programmable thermostat spending less on your heating and cooling bills. Being able to set it and forget it can help cut back energy use while you’re not home and asleep.
- Consistency and convenience — The ability to set a schedule and possibly make remote changes to the schedule is very convenient and will lead to cost savings.
- Increased comfort — Your home environment will be more comfortable because you can set the system to have the house warm and welcoming when you arrive home.
- Price – Programmable thermostats – smart or not – cost more than regular kinds. You’re paying upfront for the convenience as well as the later savings in energy costs. You’ll also want a professional to install the thermostat because if improperly installed, just one of the negative effects can be even higher heating bills!
- Setup challenges – For those who are not tech-savvy, setting up and programming a thermostat can be time-consuming or challenging. People who are not comfortable with technology might find the whole initial process an exercise in frustration.
- Compatibility issues – Not every thermostat will work with every getting and cooling system. Before purchasing a programmable thermostat, it’s best to check with an HVAC professional or the manufacturer of your system to make sure you aren’t wasting your money.
Of course, the cost of a programmable or smart thermostat is far less than buying a new, more efficient furnace or boiler. According to HVAC.com, a new furnace costs an average of $ 3,817 with prices ranging from $1,795 to $6,290 while a new boiler starts at almost £1,795 and goes up from there, according to Heatingforce in the UK.
Best programmable thermostats
The ultimate in smart thermostats, the Google, T3007ES, Nest Learning Thermostat learns the temperatures you like and programs itself — no frustrating hours spent trying to set up your schedules. It also keeps an eye on the weather and “learns” how your home handles heat in order to create the optimum environment for you. It also has the ability to turn itself down when you’re not home. It’s a nearly effortless way to cut down on heating and cooling costs. In fact, Nest says independent studies have shown that the Nest Learning Thermostat cut down on heating bills an average of 10% to 12% and on cooling bills, 15 percent.
Once connected to your home’s WiFi network, you can control it from your smartphone, tablet or laptop. Even better, it is now compatible with Amazon Alexa for voice control. Moreover, this Nest thermostat is said to work with almost all 24-Volt heating and cooling systems, no matter how it is fueled: gas, electric, radiant, oil, forced air, heat pump, hot water, solar or geothermal. In addition, you can check your phone to see your energy usage history. Finally, this is a model that buyers report installing themselves with excellent results.
- Five-star reviewers rave about the energy efficiency and ease of use, as well as installation.
- A number of buyers noted problems with the Nest thermostat failing after anywhere from a few months to a year or more.
USA Today’s Reviewed.com dubbed the Emerson Sensi Touch Wi-Fi Smart Thermostat the ‘Best Overall’ smart thermostat for three years running. Smart technology makes it super easy to use from the touchscreen or the mobile app, letting you control the system from anywhere. Emerson says that the thermostat is designed to work with the HVAC systems in most US and Canadian homes and is easily installed in 30 minutes or less, although a common C-wire is required.
Using geofencing technology, the Sensi thermostat can use the location of your smartphone to tell where you are and if you’re home. Then, the system adjusts the temperature settings, creating a custom schedule for your family. The company says that the savings can be up to 23% on energy usage.
This smart thermostat also works with all the major voice control systems, including Alexa, Apple HomeKit, Google Assistant and Wink. Just tell your assistant to raise or lower the temperature and you’re done! The physical design is also very user-friendly with features like intuitive menus, precision temperature control and smart alerts among others.
- Some local utilities offer rebates on this purchase and the 84% four- and five-star reviews praise its operation and convenience.
- Buyers reported some bugs in the software and hardware that affected the thermostat’s operation.
This new version of the ecobee Smart Thermostat is redesigned and reengineered to use voice control to enhance convenience and comfort. Using a state-of-the-art Smart Sensor, it has Alexa built in, but also integrates with other smart home assistants, such as Google Assistant, Apple Home Kit, Alexa, Samsung SmartThings, and IFTTT. The technology also senses the temperature and if people are home and adjust the heat accordingly.
The look of the thermostat unit was also redesigned to include a touch display, powerful quad-core processor, dual-band Wi-Fi, and far-field voice control ability. This is another smart thermostat that buyers say is easy to install in 45 minutes or less, thanks to an instructional video.
Of course, with Alexa built into the thermostat, it does more than just control the temperature in the house. ecobee calls it the “smart thermostat made for music.” The Bluetooth technology allows it to stream music, use Alexa Calling, Alexa Drop In (an intercom to speak between devices), and Alexa Messaging (voicemail between Alexa devices).
- 86 percent of reviewers gave this thermostat four- and five-star reviews for its great function and ease of use.
- Some buyers were unhappy with the poor software integration they experienced.
Another new and improved smart thermostat, the Honeywell Home RTH9585WF1004 Wi-Fi Smart Color Thermostat has a newer user interface to make use even more convenient. It has lots of great functional features along with some bells and whistles that make it fun too. A Customizable touchscreen has large numbers that are easy to read, a peek at your local weather including indoor and outdoor relative humidity, and lots of programming options. This thermostat can also swap your heating for cooling depending on what your home needs based on your own settings.
The touch screen can be customized to a color that matches your decor and the system comes with an app for remote control of the temperature settings. The Honeywell Home RTH9585WF1004 works with Amazon Alexa, SmartThings, Google Home, and IFTTT. This Energy Star Certified unit also qualifies for rebates with some local utility companies. Last but not least, this thermostat can use English, French, or Spanish for programming and control.
This model also has intelligent alerts that let you know if the air filter or humidifier pad needs to be changed or if there are extreme temperatures indoors or out.View Deal
- Buyers love the wireless integration and effective operation of this smart thermostat.
- Some reviewers had problems with the reliability of the thermostat as well as connectivity.
Emerson’s Sensi Wi-Fi Smart Thermostat was dubbed the ‘Best Value’ smart thermostat for three years running by USA Today’s Reviewed.com. The smart features of this thermostat let users control it from anywhere and at any time, using their smartphones and devices, including Amazon Alexa, Apple HomeKit, Google Assistant and Wink home automation platforms. Described as easy to install, the thermostat works with almost all systems and does not require a common wire (c-wire) for most installations except heat-only, cool-only and heat pump (without aux) systems, and for use with Apple HomeKit.
The accompanying intuitive mobile app guides users through installation and set-up. The system uses geofencing to help control temperature, and lets homeowners set up custom schedules to maximize heating and cooling, with up to seven . The Sensi is ENERGY STAR certified and can help save about 23 percent energy usage, which leads to money savings too.
Works with the HVAC equipment found in most homes - a c-wire is required for heat-only, cool-only and heat pump systemsView Deal
- With 85 percent four- and five-star reviews, the ease of installation and the functionality of the thermostat are what buyers love most. Rebates may also be available on this thermostat in your area.
- Some buyers had issues with various aspects of technology integration and a sustained connection with wi-fi.
Easily programmable without all the extra tech bells and whistles, the Lux TX9600TS Thermostat lets users set a schedule for up to seven days. It features a universal touch screen is super user-friendly and easy to use and adjust with a touch of the finger. The screen is large and well-lit. The thermostat is also compatible with almost any North American heating and cooling system except for those that use electric baseboard heat (120 or 240 volt) and systems with 2-cooling stages
The programming can be set for two or four different periods each day and the touchpad can be digitally locked so no one else can tinker with your energy-saving temperature schedule.
This is a popular thermostat for homeowners who want a programmable model but are not interested in any type of smartphone or smart home integration or remote control of their heating and cooling systems.
An energy usage monitor can help you keep track of how much is being used at any given time.View Deal
- Buyers highly rate the ease of installation and use, as well as the lack of any complex features. Overall they call it a great unit at a bargain price.
- Some buyers had problems with inaccurate temperature settings.
This is another programmable thermostat without all the smart bells and whistles. Orbit’s 83521 Clear Comfort Programmable Thermostat is popular because it works well and is easy to read thanks to the good backlighting and large numbers that can even be seen across the room. It can be programmed for seven individual day schedules with as many as four programming periods. Setting up the schedule is very easy because the thermostat has a function that lets you copy a section from one day and add it to the next. Home unexpectedly? You can override the program with a temporary temperature hold to adjust for comfort without messing up your regular schedule.
This is a one-stage thermostat that works with gas, oil or electric furnaces. It can also be used with central air conditioners, 2-wire hot water systems, millivolt systems as well as heat pumps that do not have auxiliary/backup heat. It is not designed for use with baseboard heaters or multi-stage heating and cooling systems.
Orbit also features accurate temperature readings that vary only within one degree -- Fahrenheit or Celsius -- for a consistent indoor environment.View Deal
- Five-star reviewers say this well-priced thermostat is easy to install and program.
- Some reviewers had issues with durability and short-cycling of air conditioning.
This programmable thermostat by Honeywell may not have smart features like tech integration but it still uses some smart technology to help you stay comfortable while saving on energy. The RTH6360D1002/E programmable thermostat uses Smart Response Learning that lets it “learn” the heating and cooling cycle times you prefer to make the house the most comfortable for you. It also features 5-2 scheduling so that you can create different weekday and weekend programs if you want. Even better, your programs are saved in the thermostat even if the power goes out. Alerts to change your filter and if batteries are low help keep the thermostat operating at an optimal level.
Honeywell’s programmable thermostat works with most heating and cooling systems but is not meant for electric baseboard heating systems. Installation is so easy that “even a grandma can install” said one five-star reviewer.
- Reviewers say it is super simple to install, program and use. They also note the very affordable price on this model
- Some buyers had issues with the thermostat’s quality and a lack of customer support.
For great programmability with no extra frills, the LuxPRO 5-2 Day Deluxe Programmable Thermostat may be the thermostat you want. This unit can be programmed for up to four different periods per day and different weekday and weekend settings. Moreover, this one has separate programs for heating and cooling, making it more efficient. It can also be run as a basic thermostat without programming and offers a temporary override of the program as well as a manual hold to maximize the system’s flexibility in keeping you comfortable. This particular model is one of the few types on the market that allows you to adjust the temperature differential/swing — the difference in temperature when the system kicks on and off.
The easy-to-install model has a keyboard lockout to prevent other family members from changing the programming and a backlight that makes viewing the digital data — in either Fahrenheit or Celsius — very easy. It is universally compatible with conventional heat and air-conditioning systems and many heat pumps and gas millivolt heaters. It does not work with 120V/240/v line voltage systems.
Separate weekday and weekend programmingView Deal
- Buyers really like how effective and efficient this thermostat is, and especially love the ability to set the swing.
- A very small percentage of reviewers had problems with durability and defective units.
This Emerson programmable thermostat is another unit that lets set up a schedule to keep you comfortable without extra technology you don’t need or want. Programming for the weekdays and different schedules on the two weekend days makes this unit very convenient. Having a number of pre-programmed schedules that can be adjusted to your preferences makes programming a breeze too.
Energy Star compliant, the Emerson thermostat has a built-in range of just 1 degree in temperature accuracy, meaning the heat in your home will stay the way you like it. Installation is easy and the unit is compatible with existing wiring and single-stage systems that are gas, oil, or electric, along with millivolt heating and many heat pump systems. It is not, however, meant to work with multi-stage systems, baseboard heating or 3-wire zone valve systems
It also features an indicator for filter changes and has a permanent memory back-up meaning you won't have to re-program everything if the power goes out.View Deal
- This thermostat comes with a 5-year warranty and 87 percent of buyers who rated it with four and five stars say it is an excellent unit at a good price.
- No overall negatives were reported and the few buyers who had issues did not single out any predominant problem.
The type of programmable thermostat that is best for you will depend on how much you want to spend as well as what features you really want. Those who aren’t tech-savvy won’t need all the home integration or app connectivity. Whatever kind you end up choosing, it will help cut down on your energy costs because it takes the onus off of you to remember to be constantly making adjustments. Plus, it doesn’t mean sacrificing comfort!