The Best Programmable Thermostats That Work With Any HVAC System

We recommend the Honeywell Home RTH8560D Programmable Touchscreen Thermostat

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programmable thermostat allows you to set a schedule that raises and lowers the temperature at set times each day, saving you money and hassle. We spent hours researching programmable thermostats, evaluating them on ease of installation and use, accuracy, and longevity. 

Our top choice, the Honeywell Home RTH8560D 7 Day Programmable Touchscreen Thermostat, offers seven-day scheduling, automatic heating and cooling cycles, and an easy-to-read interface. 

Here are the best programmable thermostats.

Our Top Picks

Best Overall: Honeywell Home RTH8560D 7 Day Programmable Touchscreen Thermostat

Honeywell Home RTH8560D 7 Day Programmable

Courtesy of Amazon

Dimensions: 4.1 x 4.1 x 1.1 inches | Control Type: Touchscreen | Power Source: Hardwired or battery | Program Mode: 7-Day

What We Like
  • 7-day programming

  • Able to run off C-wire or batteries

  • Automatically switches between heating and cooling

What We Don't Like
  • Initial scheduling is complicated

Who else recommends it? Insider, Bob Vila, and Consumer Reports also picked the Honeywell Home 7 Day Programmable Thermostat.

What do buyers say? 88% of 2,100+ Amazon reviewers rated this 4 stars or above.

If you want a user-friendly programmable thermostat, the Honeywell RTH8560D1002 could make a welcome addition to your home. It's compatible with single and multistage heating and cooling systems and battery or hard-wired installation. While it will take some time and effort to set it up, the Honeywell thermostat stands out for its intuitive design that makes daily use easy.

Depending on your needs, you can choose between several programming options. Program daily routines, seven-day schedules, or create separate plans for weekdays and weekends. The thermostat takes care of the rest, detecting whether your home needs to be warmed or cooled, and automatically switches modes. You won't have to worry about losing these details in the event of a power outage. This Honeywell thermostat provides time and day backups of your schedules, so you'll never have to reprogram them.

As for the design, this thermostat has a generous square touchscreen featuring cool blue backlighting and large, readable text. This display makes it easy to view essential information, including active schedules and indoor humidity levels, and make adjustments.

Best Budget: Orbit 83521 Clear Comfort Programmable Thermostat

Orbit 83521 Clear Comfort Programmable Thermostat

Courtesy of Amazon

Dimensions: 5.4 x 1.25 x 3.25 inches | Control Type: Push button | Power Source: Hardwired | Program Mode: 7-day

What We Like
  • Affordable price

  • Attractive display

  • 7-day programmability

  • Early start feature

What We Don't Like
  • 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

4.9
Nest Learning Thermostat 3rd Gen

Home Depot

Dimensions: 3.3 x 3.3 x 1.21 inches | Control Type: Dial or app | Power Source: Hardwired | Program Mode: 24-hour

What We Like
  • Sleek design comes in several colors

  • Automatically creates energy-saving schedule

  • Compatible with most heating/cooling systems

What We Don't Like
  • Expensive

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

ecobee Lite SmartThermostat

Courtesy of Amazon

Dimensions: 4.05 x 1 x 4.05 inches | Control Type: Touchscreen or app | Power Source: Hardwire or plug-in | Program Mode: 24-hour

What We Like
  • Wi-Fi connectivity

  • Compatible with most heating/cooling systems

  • Simple design and interface

What We Don't Like
  • 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

Sensi Touch Wi-Fi 7-Day Programmable Thermostat

Courtesy of Home Depot

Dimensions: 3.4 x 5.63 x 1.17 inches | Control Type: Touchscreen or app | Power Source: Hardwired | Program Mode: 7-day

What We Like
  • Superior energy savings

  • Numerous smart features

  • DIY installation

What We Don't Like
  • 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 RTH221B Programmable Thermostat

Honeywell RTH221B Programmable Thermostat

Courtesy of Amazon

Dimensions: 3.5 x 1 x 4.75 inches | Control Type: Push button | Power Source: Battery | Program Mode: 5-2 day

What We Like
  • Simple and easy-to-use

  • Extremely affordable

  • Precise temperature control

What We Don't Like
  • Limited compatibility

  • 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

Command Touchscreen Programmable Thermostat

Courtesy of Lowe's

Dimensions: 1.65 x 2.95 x 4.63 inches | Control Type: Touchscreen | Power Source: Hardwired | Program Mode: 7-day

What We Like
  • Compatible with 120 or 240v systems

  • Smart start technology

  • Supports up to three mats

  • Includes floor sensor

What We Don't Like
  • 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

Mysa Smart Thermostat for Electric Baseboard Heaters

Courtesy of Amazon

Dimensions: 5.98 x 4.06 x 2.68 inches | Control Type: Touchscreen or app | Power Source: Hardwired | Program Mode: 7-day

What We Like
  • Sleek design

  • Compatible with 120-240v electric baseboards

  • App can manage multiple thermostats

  • Smart functionality

What We Don't Like
  • 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. 

Final Verdict

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.

Scheduling options

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. 

Features

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. 

Design 

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.

FAQ
  • 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. 

  • Do programmable thermostats have batteries?

    In short, yes. Thermostats can run off batteries or your home's HVAC or electrical system, and both of these have batteries. The former is obvious, but the latter uses the batteries as a backup. So if your power goes out, your thermostat will operate on the batteries and retain any settings you have programmed.

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.

Article Sources
The Spruce uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. The best thermostats. Insider. https://www.insider.com/guides/home/best-thermostat

  2. The Best Programmable Thermostats for the Home. Bob Vila. https://www.bobvila.com/articles/best-programmable-thermostat/

  3. Best Programmable Thermostats of 2022. Consumer Reports. https://www.consumerreports.org/thermostats/best-programmable-thermostats-of-the-year-a1031454339/

  4. Thermostats, Department of Energy.