The P. Gagnon & Son Blog

Programmable Thermostats vs. Smart Thermostats

What’s the difference?

Programmable versus smart thermostats

When you think about investing in your home’s heating and cooling systems, you likely think about furnaces, boilers and air conditioning.

But don’t overlook your thermostat! The right thermostat can improve energy efficiency while making it easier to heat and cool your Seacoast region home.

P. Gagnon & Son offers installation of programmable thermostats that, when used properly, can cut your heating and cooling costs by 10 percent! Considering that heating and cooling accounts for around half of your home’s energy costs, that’s no small chunk of change!

Thermostat options

Once upon a time, you had one choice for a thermostat: the manual mercury switch thermostat. Some were square with slider bars, some were round with dials, and that was pretty much the only difference.

Walk through the thermostats area of your local home improvement store today, and the choices can get a little overwhelming. Beyond the old school manual thermostats, you have all kinds of programmable thermostats and smart thermostats.

Programmable thermostats: A game-changer

Programmable thermostats first gained national notice when California required clock or setback thermostats on all new-construction homes in 1978. As technology evolved, programmable thermostats did as well, with additions like digital display and memory to store data. In 1995, they were included in the Environmental Protection Agency’s EnergyStar program.

With a programmable thermostat, you can set temperatures on your thermostat and have the temperature adjust based on what time of day it is. For example, you can program your thermostat to turn the heat down in the morning when you leave for the day, then have the heat turned back up a little while before you get home so the house is warm when you arrive.

With today’s digital technology, you can program multiple settings on your thermostat. In addition to the above setting, you can add a setting for when you’re home on weekends. And you can have a setting for when you’re on vacation, so the home stays at a safe temperature but not wasting energy while you’re away but returning the home to a more comfortable temperature by the time you get back.

Smart thermostats: The next level

Smartphones changed so many things about our daily lives. One of those changes is in how we heat and cool our homes.

Wireless connectivity lets you check your thermostat settings and your home’s temperature from anywhere you can get a signal. If you forgot to turn on the vacation setting for your central air conditioning, no problem! You can do it while waiting in the security line at the airport.

Smart thermostats have programming that lets them learn your heating and cooling habits, creating a schedule that matches them. You can check the energy usage of your heating and cooling systems. Some even connect with your home automation system like Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant, so you can adjust your thermostat with a verbal command.

Being smart with your thermostat

Smart thermostats have a lot going for them. But they can be pricey, with some costing as much as $500. People also have concerns about privacy and compromised internet security.

While programmable thermostats may not offer the connectivity that smart thermostats do, they still have a lot going for them. But you have to use them right to maximize your HVAC system’s energy efficiency and lower your energy costs. We have some tips to help you do that.

  1. Read the owner’s manual. Each brand is different. Make sure you know how to use yours . Some have newer features like being able to account for how long it will take for your HVAC system to reach the desired temperature. For example, if you want your heat at 70 degrees when you get home at 5 p.m., it will know what time to fire up your furnace or boiler so that happens.
  2. Don’t make your HVAC work harder. A common mistake is cranking up the heat because people think it will get their home warm faster, or setting the thermostat for a colder air conditioning setting because they think their home will get cool faster. Both waste energy and don’t work.
  3. Be smart with timing. Program your thermostat to shut down heating or air conditioning 20 to 30 minutes before you leave for the day, and turn it back on 20 to 30 minutes before you come home. Program the thermostat to reduce heating or cooling an hour before bedtime and increase it 30 minutes before you wake up.
  4. Don’t go to extremes. Program your thermostat for when you’re home to the warmest temperature you can stand in the summer and the least-warm temperature you can stand in the winter. The less work your HVAC system has to do, the more savings you get!

Contact P. Gagnon & Son to find out more about our programmable thermostats!