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3 Must‑Know Tips for Buying a Programmable Thermostat

Anything that allows us to save money is OK in our book.

Programmable thermostats do just that.

Once programmed, you never have to mess with your thermostat setting ever again. And, if you program it right, it can save you up to $180 a year in lower energy costs.

Awesome, right?

Well, before you rush out to buy one (or get one installed by your local heating/cooling contractor), you need to know a few things.

Check out our must-know tips for buying a programmable thermostat.

Tip 1: Make sure you can actually use it

Ever bought a replacement remote control for your TV and turns out it didn’t even work with that TV brand? Yeah, that can happen with programmable thermostats, too.

Don’t buy a programmable thermostat until you make sure it can work with your heating/cooling system.

Things to keep in mind are:

  • Type of system you have — AC/furnace combo vs. heat pump
  • Number of stages — Single-stage vs. two-stage.
  • Wiring— Make sure the programmable thermostat you want has as many terminals as your current thermostat. To do this, take off the panel of your current thermostat, see what terminals it has and compare it to the owner’s manual of the programmable thermostat on the distributor’s website.

Tip 2: Make sure it matches your lifestyle

No, we don’t mean your obsession with collecting stamps. We mean your life’s schedule; the natural pattern you have of waking up, going to work, getting home, and going to sleep. These are different for everyone. So you need a programmable thermostat model that can adjust to those changes.

Programmable thermostats come in 4 different scheduling models that vary in how many days you can set different temperature schedules:

7-day model— For wild and crazy kids that have wild and crazy schedules, this model lets you set a different temperature schedule for each day of the week (Monday-Sunday).

5-1-1 model — Let’s you set 3 different temperature schedules:

  • Monday through Friday
  • Saturday
  • Sunday

5+2 model— Let’s you set 2 different temperature schedules:

  • Monday through Friday (weekdays)
  • Saturday and Sunday (weekend)

1-week model— If your life is as predictable as the sun rising, this model is for you. It let’s you set only one temperature schedule for Monday through Sunday.

Choose the model that fits your schedule. Going with the cheapest one (1-week) may cost you more in the long run because you won't use it properly.

Tip 3: Remember about zoning

If you have a zoned heating/cooling system, read this please. You’ll thank us later.

Remember that your zoned system has multiple thermostats, one to control each zone.

Well, there are programmable thermostats that can act as a “master thermostat” to control all the thermostats in the house. So if you have a zoned system, look for this feature when you’re shopping around. That way you don’t have to program multiple programmable thermostats. Now that’s what we call working smart, not hard.

Need help?

If you’re a Twin Cities homeowner, and you find all this overwhelming (and wires scare you), we can help.

We can talk to you about what programmable thermostat is right for you and install it so there are no problems. Sound good? Give us a call at (651) 228-9200 or contact us online.