Smart Thermostats vs. Programmable Thermostats: Which Option is Right For You?

Smart Thermostats vs. Programmable Thermostats: Which Option is Right For You?

Whether you’re running the heat in the winter or your air conditioner during the warm summer months, having a good thermostat is essential.  Not only does this tool allow you to set your desired interior temperature, it keeps track of how hot or cold your home is and controls your HVAC set up accordingly. As technology has changed, so have thermostats — old mercury switch thermostats are a thing of the past, replaced with either smart or programmable thermostats.  If you’re upgrading your HVAC system, which type of thermostat is the best choice for you?

Manual Thermostats

If you haven’t upgraded your air conditioner or heater in the last 10 years or so, you probably have a manual thermostat in your home.  These simple devices have a limited number of controls — usually just on/off for the heat or AC and the fan, and basic temperature controls. You simply set your desired temperature and let the HVAC system do the rest.

They are great tools if you are able to constantly change the temperature as the weather outside changes. They don’t offer any sort of energy saving benefits though, so you may find yourself paying more for that simplicity.

Programmable Thermostats

The next step up the technological ladder is the programmable thermostat.  These are more advanced than the manual models, and are designed to automatically adjust the temperature in your home throughout the day. They can also be programmed for a variety of different uses. If you’re home all the time, a daily individual program is ideal.  If you work 5 days a week, you can program the thermostat to turn off your HVAC system while you’re at work, and turn it back on before you get home — all without you even having to touch your thermostat.

Some models can even switch between heat and cool during those odd times of year when it’s frigid at night and hot during the day. No more scrambling to turn off your heater once the temperatures start climbing!

Depending on your location and how often you use your HVAC system, a programmable thermostat could save you between 15 and 30 percent on your energy bill annually.

Smart Thermostats

The newest entry in the thermostat game is the smart thermostat or the option of the WiFi connected thermostat. These have all the benefits of a programmable thermostat with one added perk — they can be connected to your home’s wireless internet service, which enables you to control your home’s temperature remotely from a compatible smart device.

If you’re tech-savvy or have at least a basic working knowledge of smartphones, you can easily adjust your home’s temperature, set heating and cooling schedules, and in some cases, even track your HVAC energy usage so you can figure out the best way to reduce your overall energy bills.

WFi thermostats typically run about $100 less than smart thermostats. However, Wifi thermostats won’t automatically adjust the temperature in your home without your control. Smart thermostats learn your routines and can begin adjusting temperatures to fit your schedule and needs

Which Thermostat Is Best For You?

When it comes right down to it, which thermostat will be the best option for you?

Let’s start at the top.  If you have a manual thermostat, it’s time to upgrade — especially if you’re concerned about your home energy usage.

If they are compatible with your current HVAC system, both programmable and smart thermostats have their perks. We tend to lean more toward the smart option, simply because of the level of convenience it provides but if all you need is something to help you program your air conditioner or heater while you’re away from home, a programmable thermostat will definitely suffice.

Smart thermostats also tend to be more expensive than programmable models, so if cost is a factor a programmable thermostat might be best for you.

Any way you look at it, if your home is still equipped with an old manual or mercury switch thermometer, it’s time to upgrade — and both programmable and smart thermostats are great options, depending on your needs.

Author Bio:

Emily Folk has spent the past two years remodeling her home to become more sustainable. She feels passionate about reducing the harm homes can wreak on the environment. To read more of her work, check out her blog, Conservation Folks, and follow her on Twitter.


Topics: Connected Homes / Smart Homes, Geothermal Heating & Cooling, Heating & Cooling, Indoor Air Quality, Radiant Heat


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