A programmable thermostat is a thermostat designed to save energy by adjusting the temperature based on programmed settings that occur at different times of the day. It works to save money and energy by heating or cooling your home to a specific, predetermined temperature based on your schedule. For some people, a programmable thermostat is little more than an inconvenience, but for others it is a means to save a great deal on the monthly electric bill. So, how do you know if a programmable thermostat is right for you?

If your home is empty from 9am to 5pm, all the energy used to maintain a specific temperature, whether it be cool or hot, in your home is wasted during those hours. Without a programmable thermostat, you’re left with two options each day as you head to work. Either you can turn off your air conditioning and come home to find it very warm and uncomfortable, or you can run your air conditioner all day to ensure your home is comfortable upon your return. Neither option is ideal as running the air conditioner to cool an empty house is a waste of money, and coming home to a stifling heat is unpleasant.

A t-stat can be set to allow the temperature inside your home to rise while you’re at work and to cool your house back down to a comfortable temperature right before you return home. The benefit of a programmable thermostat is that you save money and energy during the day while no one is home to enjoy your air conditioning.

Likewise, during the winter your thermostat can heat your house to a desired temperature right before you return home, and allow the home to cool during the day when no one is there. You don’t need to completely shut off the air conditioner or heat while you’re gone, either. You can simply set your thermostat to heat or cool your home to a much higher (or lower, in the winter) temperature than your usual setting.

If you have a steady 9 to 5 job where you’re out of the house most of the day, a t-stat is a smart investment. If you work from home, have pets that stay home all day, or need to return home frequently throughout the day, a programmable thermostat might not generate any energy savings you’re hoping for. 
It is worth it to consider purchasing a t-stat even if it doesn’t make sense for your family’s schedule currently. If you think your schedules will change in the future, or you just want to have the option to program or not program, a programmable thermostat is a smart investment.

In general, programmable t-stats save energy, and can pay for themselves in energy savings when used correctly. If you’re still not sure whether a programmable thermostat is right for you, discuss the pros and cons with a professional who can consult you further before you buy.

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