Programmable Thermostats: ‘Cool’ in More Ways Than One

Programmable Thermostat - Nest

There are some technologies that get plenty of attention in the media, such as just about every new Apple product, but there are many which are neglected even though they might have some pretty amazing features. Programmable thermostats are one such product.

These convenient little devices adjust the temperature according to your preferences and parameters, and not only give you customizable, automatic control of your air and heating, but save you money both when occupying your home and when you are away.

Energy Efficient

Besides sporting a variety of convenient features, a programmable thermostat is also energy efficient, and can help you save money on your electric and fuel costs. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, you can save up to 10 percent on heating costs a year by simply setting your thermostat back by about seven degrees for eight hours a day. These new thermostats make doing this a cinch.

Most programmable thermostats have an easy, pre-programmed schedule that you can select to quickly start saving energy. There are three main classes of programmable thermostats that you can buy: 7-day, 5+2 day, and 5-1-1 models. The 7 day models are the most customizable, designed for people with schedules that vary on a day to day basis, thus letting you program different settings for each day of the week. The 5+2 day system allows you to use the same schedule for every weekday, but then program custom settings for the weekends. Finally, the 5-1-1 models keeps a set schedule throughout the week, and then lets you program each day of the weekend differently, as you see fit.

Obviously, the more customization you opt for, the higher the price. Let’s take a look at some popular models.

Which Programmable Thermostat is for You?

As mentioned, one of the main reasons why you would consider purchasing a programmable thermostat is the level of customization and interaction that a normal thermostat simply cannot provide.

One shining example is the Nest thermostat, which is one of the more popular of the programmable thermostats. It learns which temperatures you prefer and builds a schedule based on when, and how much, you change the temperature throughout the day. Besides temperature, Nest also monitors light, humidity, and motion in order to fine tune the program.

If you have several Nest thermostats in your house, they will coordinate through your Wi-Fi network, and develop schedules for each section of your home. Nest also has a smartphone application, which allows you to change the temperature of your house remotely, even from a different state or country. When it comes to the new generation of thermostats, Nest is definitely carrying the torch in developing new, interesting features, which consumers want, inspiring their competitors to do the same.

Another popular programmable thermostat is the Honeywell Prestige 2.0 Comfort System, which is a 7-day model with all the bells and whistles, including custom color displays to match your home’s decor. The Prestige 2.0 relies on “interview-based programming” in order to create a routine, which means the user has to answer a multitude of questions about their thermostat habits, and then the device programs a schedule best suited to his or her needs. Depending on the system you have in your house, the Honeywell Prestige allows you to regulate both the temperature and humidity levels inside your home. You can also monitor and regulate the system from your computer or mobile device.

Ecobee, one of the other developers of next-gen home solutions, offers their own “Smart Thermostat,” which is also Internet enabled, allowing you to control your thermostat through a unique web interface. The web portal lets you see the current status of your thermostat, view dynamic reports on system performance, and set up custom alerts and service reminders.

Ecobee also has a unique feature called DataRhythm TechnologyTM. DataRhythm utilizes a wide range of data, including the type of HVAC equipment you use (and their run times), the weather outside, and the typical energy performance of your house, to make personalized energy decisions for you, saving money, and helping streamline your air and heat needs.

A programmable thermostat provides a dynamic and personalized approach to managing the temperature in your home. Other than acting as a cool, high-tech addition to your house, these thermostats are also energy and money savers, and will pay for themselves in the long run. If you already have the latest iPhone or tablet, and are looking for another fancy gadget to impress your friends, these devices can provide bragging rights as you set the perfect temperature from the convenience of your smartphone or Internet connection.