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Buying a Programmable Thermostat? Don’t Make These 3 Mistakes

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digital thermostat with glow lightSo, you’re looking to buy a programmable thermostat. You’ve heard how they can save you up to $180 a year while keeping your comfortable.

This is true. But before you start looking for the cool, special features you want, make sure you don’t make these fundamental mistakes that could:

  • Make the thermostat worthless
  • Reduce how much money it could save you

1) Buying one that isn’t compatible with your heating/cooling system

Just like certain remote controls only work with certain TVs, some programmable thermostats are designed to only work with certain heating/cooling systems.

Things you need to look for include:

Type of heating and cooling system— Do you have an air conditioner/furnace combo or a heat pump? Look on the thermostat’s packaging or product description online to see if it can work with what you have.

Number of heating and cooling stages— “Stages” refers to the system’s ability to run at different speeds depending on the weather. For example, a two-stage air conditioning unit has a high setting for hotter days and a low setting for milder days.

Make sure your programmable thermostat can work with your system if it has multiple stages. The programmable thermostat should say if it can in its product description.

Wiring— Your new thermostat needs the same type of wiring as your current thermostat to work with your system. Do this:

  1. Turn your heating/cooling system off
  2. Take the cover off your current thermostat and examine its terminals and wires. Make a note of the colors and letters. These letters designate what part of your heating and cooling system the thermostat controls.
  3. Compare your list to the wiring diagram on the new programmable thermostat you’re considering. Make sure it has at least the same number of terminals as the old one. You can find wiring diagrams in the thermostat owner’s manual on the distributor’s website.

2) Buying based on price, instead of your work/life schedule

When shopping around for a programmable thermostat, don’t think, “I just want the cheapest one I can find.” Think, “What’s my weekly schedule like?”

Your schedule will determine what scheduling model you need to buy to maximize your heating and cooling system’s efficiency. 

Programmable thermostats come in 4 different scheduling models to fit different life schedules.
Here they are from most customizable and most expensive, to least customizable and least expensive.

7-day model— Set a different temperature schedule for each day of the week (Mon-Sun). Perfect for those with irregular schedules.

5-1-1 model — Set 3 different temperature schedules:

  • Monday through Friday
  • Saturday
  • Sunday

5+2 model— Set 2 different temperature schedules:

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

1-week model— Set only one temperature schedule for Monday through Sunday.

There are also smart thermostats, like the Nest, that can adjust to your schedule as you use it.

3) Forgetting about zoning

Zoned homes are split into different heating/cooling sections. If that’s your home, then you have multiple thermostats, one to control each zone of the home.

So that means you’ll either need to buy multiple programmable thermostats or buy a programmable thermostat that can control multiple zones. You can designate this single thermostat as the “master” thermostat. That way you don’t have to waste time programming multiple thermostats.

Ask a professional for help

Finding the right type of thermostat and installing it can be a pain. But a professional heating/cooling contractor can help you:

  • Find the one that’s perfect for your lifestyle and matches your system
  • Install it so it works properly

If you live in New Jersey and need help finding and installing a new programmable thermostat, ask one of Air Professionals’ experts for help.