5 Kinds Of Programmable Thermostats

a person adjusting a thermostat

One of the single most effective things you can do to cut down on your energy bill is to adjust your thermostat so that your AC and furnace don’t run as often or at all while you’re out of the house. Before leaving or going to bed, it’s common practice to set the thermostat to a higher temperature in the summer and a lower temperature in the winter; this way the system doesn’t have to run as hard at these times when the living space isn’t really in use.

The downside to this technique, however, is that you will most likely return home to uncomfortable conditions or wake up to a chilly house in winter mornings. Oh, and you could forget to adjust the thermostat altogether sometimes.

This is where automatic or programmable thermostats come in. These models allow you to specify certain times of the day when the thermostat will adjust on its own—you can set the system to rest when you don’t need it, and you can also program the system to start up again just before you get home or wake up in the morning. They’re both reliable and convenient, but not without a bit of a learning curve. That’s where we come in! Read below to learn more about the different types of programmable thermostats and which one might be best for your needs.


The most common type of automatic thermostat you might see are the newer digital ones. These are characterized by their lit-up LCD or LED screens along with button controls. Although they offer precise temperature control and a high level of programming flexibility, digital programmable thermostats may come off as unnecessarily complicated or confusing for a lot of people.


If you’re not comfortable messing with the complex controls of a digital one, the simpler design of an electromechanical thermostat may be a better fit. They typically have dials and tabs that you can use to set up a timer, making them much easier to figure out. They do, however, lack flexibility as you can only set the same programming for every day.


If you’re looking for the advanced functions of digital but prefer the simpler, hands-on controls of electromechanical, you could consider a hybrid automatic thermostat. These have easy-to-use dials as controls paired with the flexibility of digital thermostats.


Rather than having you programming a timer, these thermostats have you program how long you’d like for them to run, called a “comfort period”. They begin at a set back temperature and, when you enter the space, you can press a button to initiate this comfort period which will last as long as you specified. Because of their lack of flexibility, though, these thermostats are best used in spaces that you don’t use very often.


The idea behind this design is that when a space is unoccupied, the lights won’t be on. These thermostats have you specify a lighting level that will trigger them to adjust the temperature to comfortable levels; when the lighting is below this specified level, the system won’t run as often. This might work for your home if you’re very diligent about turning lights off, but otherwise they’re mostly used for offices and stores.

Which Is Best For You?

Being newer technology, programmable thermostats aren’t something everyone knows about yet. Before considering getting one for your home, make sure you understand which one will work best with not only your lifestyle but also your AC and heating units. If you need advice making a purchase like this, don’t hesitate to call us. Make sure to have the brand and model number of your unit with you, and we can help direct you to one that will work best for you!