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If you're always popping by your thermostat to turn the temperature up in the morning and down at night, it's time to invest in a programmable thermostat. These thermostats allow you to set a schedule that raises and lowers the temperature at set times each day, which not only saves you some hassle but can also help reduce your electricity bills.
While shopping for a programmable thermostat, you'll want to consider factors such as its scheduling options—can you set a unique schedule for every day of the week or just one schedule that runs on repeat?—as well as whether it's compatible with your heating and cooling system. Other things to look at include whether you can install it yourself, if it has any useful features, and if its overall design will mesh with your decor.
Here, the best programmable thermostats to install in your home.
Best Overall: Honeywell Home RTH8560D 7 Day Programmable Touchscreen Thermostat
Dimensions: 4.1 x 4.1 x 1.1 inches | Control Type: Touchscreen | Power Source: Hardwired or battery | Program Mode: 7-Day
Able to run off C-wire or batteries
Automatically switches between heating and cooling
Initial scheduling is complicated
This touchscreen thermostat from Honeywell is an unbeatable choice for anyone who wants the convenience of a programmable schedule without an overly confusing interface. The mid-priced thermostat offers a 7-day schedule with four periods per day, and it's compatible with most two-stage HVAC systems.
The Honeywell Thermostat has a sleek square design with a large touchscreen interface that’s backlit with a cool blue light, making it easy to read. It’s capable of automatically sensing when your home needs heating vs. cooling and makes the switch automatically, and it has permanent day and time backup, saving you the hassle of resetting it every time the power goes out.
Best Budget: Orbit 83521 Clear Comfort Programmable Thermostat
Dimensions: 5.4 x 1.25 x 3.25 inches | Control Type: Push button | Power Source: Hardwired | Program Mode: 7-day
Early start feature
Doesn't work with multi-stage heating/cooling systems
High-tech thermostats can cost hundreds of dollars, but the Orbit Clear Comfort Programmable Thermostat delivers many of the same useful features for a fraction of the price. It has an attractive contemporary design with a large display and glass front, and it boasts 7-day programmability with up to four periods each day.
The Orbit Thermostat has a copy feature that makes programming quick and easy, and it also offers permanent and temporary hold modes. Its early start feature ensures your desired temperature is reached by the programmed time, and precision control keeps the temperature within +/- 1 degree Fahrenheit of the set temperature. Just be sure to check whether it’s compatible with your heating system before you buy, as it doesn’t work with multi-stage heating or cooling systems, 3-wire hydronic systems, or baseboard heaters.
Best Smart: Google Nest Learning Thermostat
Dimensions: 3.3 x 3.3 x 1.21 inches | Control Type: Dial or app | Power Source: Hardwired | Program Mode: 24-hour
Sleek design comes in several colors
Automatically creates energy-saving schedule
Compatible with most heating/cooling systems
Smart devices like the Google Nest Learning Thermostat can be controlled from your smartphone, but this gadget takes it a step further, learning your schedule and the temperatures you like and automatically creating a program to help you save energy and stay comfortable. The sleek circular design comes in a variety of metal finishes, and it’s compatible with 95% of heating and cooling systems.
The Nest Learning Thermostat is Wi-Fi enabled, meaning you can adjust it right from your smartphone, but it can be manually adjusted via the unit’s outer dial, as well. Thanks to its smart programming, the Nest Learning Thermostat can save you up to 12% on heating costs and 15% on cooling, and it can even show you your energy history, providing insights on how much energy you used and why.
Best with WiFi: ecobee3 Lite Smart Thermostat
Dimensions: 4.05 x 1 x 4.05 inches | Control Type: Touchscreen or app | Power Source: Hardwire or plug-in | Program Mode: 24-hour
Compatible with most heating/cooling systems
Simple design and interface
Geofencing only works with one user
SmartSensors sold separately
The ecobee Lite Smart Thermostat can be controlled from both Android and iOS devices, allowing you to adjust the temperature from anywhere, and it integrates easily with other smart home devices, as well. It has a simple black design that lights up when it senses you nearby, and its 24-hour programming abilities can save up to 23% annually on heating and cooling costs compared to a hold of 72 degrees.
This thermostat is compatible with most heating systems—it works with radiant heating systems, multi-stage, and dual-fuel heat pumps—and it can be paired with the brand’s SmartSensors, which can be placed around your home to help manage hot and cool spots. Overall, it’s a simple Wi-Fi connected option that gives you more control over your home.
Best Wired: Emerson Sensi Touch Wi-Fi Smart Thermostat
Dimensions: 3.4 x 5.63 x 1.17 inches | Control Type: Touchscreen or app | Power Source: Hardwired | Program Mode: 7-day
Superior energy savings
Numerous smart features
Complicated to install with heat pump
If you already have a C-wire (also known as a common wire) in your home, you’ll likely want a hardwired thermostat like the Sensi Touch. This smart thermostat is compatible with a wide range of heating and cooling systems, and it allows you to remotely control your home’s temperature from your smartphone or tablet.
The Sensi Touch offers advanced features such as flexible scheduling and geofencing, and it can save you up to 23% on HVAC energy usage. It’s compatible with popular smart home platforms like Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant, and it will even send you smart alerts if it detects extreme temperature or humidity levels in your home.
Best Basic: Honeywell Home RTH2300B1038 5-2 Day Programmable Thermostat
Dimensions: 3.5 x 1 x 4.75 inches | Control Type: Push button | Power Source: Battery | Program Mode: 5-2 day
Simple and easy-to-use
Precise temperature control
Batteries need to be replaced regularly
If you prefer a thermostat without smart features and touchscreens, the Honeywell 5-2 Day Programmable Thermostat is extremely no-frills, yet it still provides the convenience of 5-2 day programming. This simple thermostat has push buttons to adjust the temperature, as well as for hold, run, and programming. There are switches on the bottom of the unit that let you select between heating, cooling, and off, as well as an on/off switch for your fan.
The 5-2 day programming allows you to have a different four-period schedule for the two weekend days, and the unit offers precise +/- 1 degree temperature control. The thermostat is backlit for easy viewing, but keep in mind that it’s only compatible with low-volt heating and cooling systems.
Best for Heated Floors: SunTouch Command Touchscreen Programmable Thermostat
Dimensions: 1.65 x 2.95 x 4.63 inches | Control Type: Touchscreen | Power Source: Hardwired | Program Mode: 7-day
Compatible with 120 or 240v systems
Smart start technology
Supports up to three mats
Includes floor sensor
Screen gets smudged
No smart features
Radiant flooring has become more popular in recent years, and if you’re looking for a thermostat that can control your heated floors, the SunTouch Command Touchscreen Programmable Thermostat is the way to go. It can be used with 120v or 240v systems and connected to up to three mats, as long as the combined amperage is less than 15. It’s easy to install if you’re just installing heated floors, and it can also be used as a replacement for any floor heating thermostat that uses a 10k sensor wire.
The SunTouch Thermostat offers a 7-day programming schedule, and its bright touch screen display has several color themes to choose from. It has a built-in GFCI for safety, and its SmartStart Technology ensures the floor has reached the set temperature at your scheduled time.
Best for Electric Baseboards: Mysa Smart Thermostat
Dimensions: 5.98 x 4.06 x 2.68 inches | Control Type: Touchscreen or app | Power Source: Hardwired | Program Mode: 7-day
Compatible with 120-240v electric baseboards
App can manage multiple thermostats
Limited controls via physical unit
It can be hard to find a thermostat that works with electric baseboard heat, and one of the best options out there is the Mysa Smart Thermostat. This programmable thermostat works with 120-240v electric baseboards and electric fan-forced heaters, and it requires one neutral or second live wire. It has a sleek minimalist design that solely displays the temperature, but you can set a schedule, track energy use, and more through the Mysa app.
Mysa is rated for controlling electric heating systems up to 3,800 watts, and it’s not compatible with 12-24v systems like oil or natural gas furnaces. The brand says 80% of people are able to do a DIY installation, and the app makes it easy to manage multiple Mysa thermostats throughout your home.
The Honeywell Home 7 Day Programmable Touchscreen Thermostat (view on Amazon) is a great mid-price model that has a sleek design and offers a 7-day programming schedule. If you want all the bells and whistles of a smart thermostat, check out the Google Nest Learning Thermostat (view on Amazon). It automatically creates an optimized schedule based on your habits and preferences, helping to save you money.
What to Look for in a Programmable Thermostat
Ease of installation
As you shop for a thermostat, you’ll want to consider whether it’s compatible with your existing heating and cooling system. If you’re replacing an old thermostat with a similar model, you’ll likely be able to complete the installation yourself, as it’s typically just a matter of reconnecting wires. However, if you’re upgrading to a thermostat that has more wires than your existing setup, you may need to have a professional assist with installation, which will ultimately increase the cost of the project.
There are several common scheduling options you’ll see on programmable thermostats. Arguably the most popular is a 7-day program, which allows you to create an individual heating schedule for each day of the week. Another popular option is the 5-2 day program, which lets you set one schedule for the five weekdays and another for the weekend. Finally, more high-tech thermostats offer 24-hour programming, which gives you the ability to set up to 24 periods each day.
In addition to programmability, many thermostats offer additional features that may be useful for your household. Wi-Fi connectivity is one of the most popular features, as it allows you to control and schedule the thermostat from your smartphone. Other features include touchscreen displays, smart home compatibility, smart learning, geofencing, and more. As you decide which of these would be most beneficial to you, keep in mind that thermostats with more features tend to cost more.
Depending on where your thermostat is located in your home, you might want a model with an attractive appearance. More modern thermostats tend to have sleek housings, while cheaper models may have boring beige plastic exteriors. As you consider which design will work best for you, keep in mind that you may have to patch your wall if your new thermostat is a different shape or size than your existing one.
Can you install a programmable thermostat yourself?
If you’re replacing your old thermostat with a similar model, it’s usually quite easy to complete the job yourself. Inside your thermostat, you’ll find terminals labeled with various letters, and it’s simply a matter of connecting the proper wire to the right terminal. Most thermostat wires operate on 24-volt power, which means they are generally safe to work on without shutting off the circuit feeding the thermostat wiring.
How do you program a programmable thermostat?
After installing your new thermostat, you’ll need to program its schedule. The process will vary between different models, but in general, you’ll have to go through each day’s program and select the times and temperatures you want. For instance, you could set it to 70 degrees at 7 AM when you get up, 65 degrees at 10 AM when you leave for work, back up to 70 at 6 PM when you get home, and down to 65 at your bedtime. Most units allow you to set up to four times per day for weekdays, and with a 7-day program, you can adjust this schedule for every day of the week.
How much money can you save with a programmable thermostat?
According to the US Department of Energy, you can save around 10% a year on heating and cooling by turning your thermostat back 7 to 10 degrees for eight hours a day. So if you program your thermostat to decrease the temperature while you’re away at work—or even while you’re sleeping—you could save hundreds of dollars a year.
Are programmable thermostats suitable for most homes?
Yes, programmable thermostats are compatible with most heating and cooling systems. There are even programmable thermostats for electric baseboards, heated floors, and more.
Why Trust The Spruce?
This article was written by Camryn Rabideau, a freelance writer and product tester for The Spruce. While selecting thermostats for this article, she considered a wide range of features, including their price, ease-of-use, extra features, and customer ratings. She selected options that work with various types of heating and cooling systems, as well as products for all different price points.