Programmable thermostats are one of the first HVAC items recommended by a HVAC Service Company to homeowners looking to REDUCE ENERGY USAGE. The familiar rule is that, on average, if you raise or lower your heating or cooling thermostat setting by one degree for eight hours per day, you increase or decrease your energy use by 1 percent.

Therefore, you can get about a 10 percent savings by adjusting the temperature by 10 degrees before you leave for your eight hour work day. When making the adjustment by hand, you risk forgetting to change the temperature and coming home to an uncomfortable house. With a modern programmable thermostat, your house will be at the temperature you want exactly when you want it to be there.

Key Features

The main benefit is scheduling. Most models have wake, leave, return, and sleep settings. You set the time of day each period starts and what temperature you would like during that time, and the heating or cooling (perhaps you have a combination heat/cool model) thermostat automatically makes the adjustments. In addition to not having to worry about remembering to change the temperature when you’re away, you’ll also be able to come home or wake up to a home that’s already at a planned comfortable temperature.

Some models have different settings for different days. The most common options are weekdays and weekends, weekdays plus separate Saturday and Sunday settings, or different settings for each day of the week. More advanced models also allow you to program a vacation override. A qualified HVAC Services Company can help guide your choice to best suit your individual needs.
WiFi thermostats, when properly installed by a HVAC Company, let you program your HVAC system even when you’re not home. If you’re coming home late, you can set it to turn on the heating or cooling later. If you’re coming home early, you can have your home’s temperature ready when you get there. If you forget to adjust your thermostat for your vacation, you can do it from the airport. Just a quick call on your smart phone and you’re done and the heating and cooling temperatures are set.
Learning thermostats take things a step forward. Instead of a fixed schedule, they adapt to your habits and the air temperature. On a particularly hot or cold day, they’ll turn on sooner. If they detect that you always make an adjustment at a certain time, they’ll start making it for you. They are truly Smart Models.

Proper Use Guidelines for Programmable Thermostats


  • Keep the heating or cooling temperature set at its energy savings set-points for long periods of time (at least eight hours), for example, during the day, when no one is at home, and through the night, after bedtime.
  • All thermostats let you temporarily make an area warmer or cooler, without erasing the pre-set programming. This override is cancelled automatically at the next program period. You use more energy (and end up paying more on energy bills) if you consistently “hold” or over-ride the pre-programmed settings.
  • Cranking your unit up to 90 degrees or down to 40 degrees, for example, will not heat or cool your house any faster. Most thermostats begin to heat or cool at a set time, to reach set point temperatures sometime thereafter. Units with adaptive (smart/intelligent) recovery features are an exception to this rule. Adaptive recovery units are constantly calculating the amount of time required to heat or cool the house, so that it reaches that temperature when the homeowner programmed it. By “examining” the performance of the past few days the thermostat can keep track of the seasons. In this way, your house is always at the comfort levels when occupied, but saving the most energy when unoccupied.
  • Units typically have two types of hold features: (a) hold/permanent/vacation; (b) temporary. Avoid using the hold/permanent/vacation feature to manage day to day temperature settings. “Hold” or “vacation” features are best when you’re planning to be away for an extended period. Set this feature at a constant, efficient temperature (i.e. several degrees warmer temperature in summer, several degrees cooler during winter), when going away for the weekend or on vacation. You’ll waste energy and money if you leave the “hold” feature at the comfort setting while you’re away.
  • Many homes use just one thermostat to control the whole house. If your home has multiple heating or cooling zones, you’ll need a programmed setback thermostat for each zone to maximize comfort, convenience and energy savings throughout the house.
  • If your programmable thermostat runs on batteries, don’t forget to change the batteries each year. Some units will indicate when batteries must be changed.
The HVAC technicians at ServiceMark Heating Cooling & Plumbing are always available to provide the information needed to select the Programmable Thermostat that best provides both whole-home comfort and energy savings for your HVAC system.When properly installed and used the average savings per year can reach or exceed $180 quickly paying the homeowner back for the investment.