How to Use a Programmable Thermostat Properly

A programmable thermostat is ideal for people who are away from home during set periods of time throughout the week. Through proper use of pre-programmed settings, a programmable thermostat can save you about $180 every year in energy costs.

How Do You Choose the Right One for You?

To decide which model is best for you, think about your schedule and how often you are away from home for regular periods of time—work, school, other activities—and then decide which of the three different models best fits your schedule:

  • 7-day models are best if your daily schedule tends to change; for example, if children are at home earlier on some days. These models give you the most flexibility and let you set different programs for different days—usually with four possible temperature periods per day.
  • 5+2-day models use the same schedule every weekday, and another for weekends.
  • 5-1-1 models are best if you tend to keep one schedule Monday through Friday and another schedule on Saturdays and Sundays.

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Make sure your home is as energy efficient as possible. See which NYSERDA program can help you Go Green today!

Programmable Thermostat Settings

You can use the table below as a starting point for setting energy-saving temperatures, and then adjust the settings to fit your family’s schedule and stay comfortable.

SettingTimeSetpoint Temperature (Heat) Setpoint Temperature (Cool)
Wake6:00 a.m. < 70˚ F> 78˚ F
Day 8:00 a.m.Setback at least 8˚ F Setup at least 7˚ F
Evening 6:00 p.m. < 70˚ F > 78˚ F
Sleep 10:00 p.m. Setback at least 8˚ F Setup at least 4˚ F

Greatest Benefit from Your Programmable Thermostat infographGet the Greatest Benefit from Your Programmable Thermostat

Install your thermostat away from heating or cooling registers, appliances, lighting, doorways, fireplaces, skylights and windows, and areas that receive direct sunlight or drafts. Interior walls are best.

Keep the thermostat set at energy-saving temperatures for long periods of time, such as during the day when no one is home and at bedtime.

Set the “hold” button at a constant energy-saving temperature when going away for the weekend or on vacation.

Resist the urge to override the pre-programmed settings. Every time you do, you use more energy and may end up paying more on your energy bill.

Use a programmable thermostat for each zone of your house if you have multiple heating and cooling zones. This will help you maximize comfort, convenience, and energy savings throughout the house.

Change your batteries each year if your programmable thermostat runs on batteries. Some units will indicate when batteries must be changed.

If you have a heat pump, you may require a special programmable thermostat to maximize your energy savings year-round. Talk to your retailer or contractor for details before selecting your thermostat.

If you have a manual thermostat, you can adjust the temperatures daily before you leave the house and when you go to sleep at night. Typically, adjusting temperatures 5 – 8 degrees (down in winter, up in summer) can help save energy if you are going to be away from home for several hours.

Using A Programmable Thermostat to Save Energy and Fight Global Warming

interactive programmable thermostat

ENERGY STAR® has created an interactive programmable thermostat  that will not only walk you through the features and directions to allow you to get the greatest benefits, but when completed will also show you how much you have saved.

A programmable thermostat helps you save energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global warming. Give it a try, keeping in mind that setting temperatures up or down when you are away or asleep is an easy way to save energy and money without sacrificing comfort.


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