How to Get the Most Out of Your Programmable Thermostat


Did you know that heating and cooling costs can make up as much as half of your total energy costs each year? These days we’re all looking to save a little money wherever we can. One of the best ways to save money on your energy bills is to install a programmable thermostat.

In North Carolina, where the temperature fluctuates regularly, a programmable thermostat is a great investment. Not only is it convenient, but it can pay for itself several times over within one year of purchase.

Buy the Right Programmable Thermostat

There are 3 basic types of programmable thermostat.

5-2 Models

These allow you to create settings for weekdays (5) and a separate setting for weekends (2). For most people with a regular full-time job, this is a good choice.

5-1-1 Models

Similar to the 5-2 models, the 5-1-1 offers settings for weekdays (5), Saturday (1), and Sunday (1). If you have regular plans during the weekend, such as church on Sunday or a Saturday afternoon tee time, these are a great option. 

7-Day Models

These programmable thermostats offer the most control and flexibility, enabling you to create different schedules for every day of the week. If your schedule is different every day, this is probably the best way to go.

Location Makes a Difference

Where you install your thermostat can significantly impact how well it works. Installing thermostats on the exterior walls or near doors can cause readings that are not accurate. This could lead to your system to turn on or off when it shouldn’t. To avoid these issues, be sure your programmable thermostat is installed on an interior wall away from entryways, vents, windows, and direct sunlight.

Setting Your Thermostat

There are two main goals when using a programmable thermostat.

  1. Limit the number of times your unit needs to come on in a given day.
  2. Don’t waste energy making your home comfortable when you’re not there or awake to appreciate it.

According to ENERGY STAR, you can save an average of $180 a year by setting your programmable thermostat as follows:




-8 degrees F for 10 hours

-8 degrees F for 8 hours


+7 degrees F for 10 hours

+4 degrees F for 8 hours

For weekdays, make sure that the system is set to  a lower temperature when you leave and set to return to a more comfortable temperature twenty or thirty minutes before you come home. This way, you’re not heating or cooling your home all day while no one is there, but it will be comfortable when you return.

Use the same settings for at night.  Set the temperature lower at bedtime and increase it twenty or thirty minutes before you wake up in the morning. If you’re too hot or too cold during the night, add or remove blankets to stay comfortable.

Don’t Use “Hold” to Override Programmed Settings

Once you set up your programmable thermostat, the best thing you can do is leave it alone. In order to manually override the programmed settings, you can use the “hold” button. Doing so will hold the temperature where you set it until the next time that it’s supposed to change.

While it may be enticing to do this frequently when you’re uncomfortable, try to refrain. Your system will have to use more energy to get back to the next set point. This will cost you money and may cancel out the savings of the programmable thermostat. If you find that you’re regularly feeling uncomfortable, you may need to adjust the times and temperatures in your programmed settings.

If you’re going away for the weekend or on a vacation, use a manual override of vacation settings to keep your system from running its regular schedule.

Change the Batteries Annually

One of the most common issues we see every season are HVAC systems that don’t work because the thermostat batteries need to be changed. While this may seem obvious, letting your batteries die on their own means that at some point your system will stop working. By the time you realize it, it may take a lot of energy to get your home back to the right temperature. In order to prevent this issue, set a reminder in your calendar to change the batteries in your thermostat every year. You may be replacing batteries with some juice left in them, but it’s better than paying more on your energy bill if the batteries go dead on their own.

If you would like to learn more about programmable thermostats for your home, contact Newcomb and Company today!

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