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Considering a Programmable Thermostat? Why You Should and How to Use It Correctly

Did you know you can save about 10 percent on your heating and cooling bills every year simply by installing a programmable thermostat and using it correctly? The chance to save energy without sacrificing comfort is the primary reason people invest in programmable thermostats. Here’s a look at the many options available to you and tips for getting the most out of your investment.

Programmable Thermostat Models

  • 5+2-day: By choosing this model, you have the ability to program weekdays and weekends independently. If you have a predictable work week and Saturday and Sunday have similar schedules, this is a great model for you.
  • 5-1-1: This option places Monday through Friday on the same schedule while letting you program Saturday and Sunday independently. The added flexibility makes this programmable thermostat model a popular option.
  • 7-day: This is the most flexible model, which gives you the ability to program each day separately. This is ideal if you get home at different times on different days of the week or if your schedule is less predictable from day to day.

Additional Features

The available programming options are important when selecting a programmable thermostat, but additional features enhance your experience as well. Look for the following features you deem the most important when selecting a programmable thermostat:

  • “Smart” features that allow for remote programming via an internet connection and a smartphone, tablet or computer
  • Backlit display with adjustable brightness
  • Touch screenVoice recognition
  • Check filter light
  • Malfunction indicator
  • Adaptive recovery so the programmable thermostat can be paired with a heat pump

Tips for Using a Programmable Thermostat

A programmable device is only effective at saving you money if you operate it correctly. Use these best practices to get the most from your programmable thermostat:

  • Program energy-saving set points: Most programmable thermostats have four programming periods per day. This allows you to set different temperatures for the morning, day, evening and overnight. Set the temperature back 7 to 10 degrees for eight hours at a time each day, such as while you’re at work during the day or sleeping at night. The programmable option means a comfortable temperature resumes before you arrive home or wake up.
  • Use overrides sparingly: All programmable thermostats let you override programmed settings without erasing them. The override is canceled when the next program period arrives. Keep in mind that each time you override the temperature, you increase energy use and make your bills go up, so use overrides sparingly.
  • Use the right override: Programmable thermostats usually have two override options: permanent/vacation and temporary. The temporary hold is for day-to-day overrides while the permanent hold is for while you’re away for days at a time. The permanent hold isn’t canceled when the next programmed period arrives. Instead, it maintains the temperature you set during your extended absence. You can program a comfortable temperature in advance for the day you are expected to arrive home.
  • Override by only a degree or two: Cranking up the temperature to 80 degrees or down to 60 degrees won’t cool your home any faster. All it accomplishes is wasted energy as you get overly heated or overly cooled. Alter the temperature by one degree and change what you’re wearing to cool off or warm up in a cost effective way.
  • Use a ceiling fan: In the summer, set the temperature to 78 degrees and run a ceiling fan to enjoy a cool breeze. The fan creates a wind chill effect, making you feel 4 degrees cooler. This lets you turn up the thermostat for energy savings without feeling uncomfortable. In the winter, set the ceiling fan on low and run it in reverse to circulate warmed air back down to the living space. This technique lightens the load on your furnace without creating a cooling draft.
  • Consider zoning: You have multiple light switches to control lighting in your home; why not employ the use of multiple programmable thermostats for customized comfort in every room? This is called zoning, which is found in more and more new homes today because of its ability to deliver incomparable comfort and energy savings.
  • Change the batteries annually: Batteries tend to die at the most inopportune moment. Prevent that from happening by changing the batteries once a year. Some models have an indicator telling you when the batteries are low.

For more information about choosing the right programmable thermostat for your home, contact the experts at We proudly provide Chicago, Northwest Indiana and Southwest Michigan with high quality HVAC services.

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