Programmable thermostats are an easy way to save money on your energy bills for heating and cooling, but they are not for everyone. For example, they work best if no one is usually at home during the day. If a family member is at your home during the day, you will only realize the benefits of a programmable thermostat at night and your energy savings will be somewhat less.
Also, if you live in an area that does not require air conditioning, you will only see the benefits of a programmable thermostat in the winter. Finally, if you have a heat pump, using a programmable thermostat for the heating mode is not a good idea. The way heat pumps work means that when the thermostat calls for an increased temperature in the mornings or when you arrive home from work, the heat pump will use highly inefficient heat strips to bring the temperature back up. Any energy savings from the lowered temperature will be offset by the use of the electric heat strips. Your energy savings with a heat pump will be limited to reducing your energy costs for air conditioning.
If a programmable thermostat will work for you, choose one that has programming options that fit your schedule. A 7-day thermostat offers the most flexibility and allows you to program a different schedule for each day of the week. A 5-1-1 model allows you to program one scheduler for weekdays, a different schedule for Saturday, and a third scheduled for Sunday. A 5-2 model is similar except that you are limited to one program for weekdays and one program for weekends.
Your local HVAC contractor can help you choose and install a programmable thermostat that’s right for you and your family.