Best Programmable Thermostat

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The best programmable thermostat is a smart investment for home and business owners who want to enjoy monetary savings on their monthly energy bills. This device can save as much as $200 annually, as well as reduce the amount of time spent on manual adjustments of the temperature settings.

This is also a great device to ensure that you always get home to a warm or cool home, depending on the weather, regardless of where you are in the world (i.e., Wi-Fi enabled connection).

Of course, the best programmable thermostats are more expensive than their manual versions. But where their benefits are concerned and when these are used properly, their costs are more than justified, not to mention that these pay for themselves in a single season of use.

Buying Guide

The best programmable thermostats should have form and function in the right balance. On the one hand, these have intuitive user-friendly interfaces, slim profiles, and stylish overall design that blends in well with modern smart appliances. On the other hand, these usually have a wide range of practical functions, from customizable LED screens to programmable temperature and time settings.

But with each added feature also comes a higher price. Interested individuals are then advised to determine their specific priorities in terms of the desired features, whether it’s app-adjustable temperature settings or motion-activated controls.

Ease of installation and use

Many programmable thermostats don’t require C-wires in their installation, while many more also require them. If you’re looking for an easier installation, we suggest choosing the former, although you can also hire a professional electrician for the latter.

Most of the smart thermostats in our list are compatible with most of the heating and cooling systems in North America. But be sure to check the package inserts for exceptions for safety reasons.

Adjustable and programmable cycles

The feature prevents the wasteful, frequent on-off cycling of the heating and/or cooling systems in your home.  With a recovery feature, the thermostat also initiates the initial heating and cooling process so that the preferred temperature has been reached at the pre-set time. Many of the smart thermostats can also be programmed via apps that can be controlled via mobile devices and Internet connection, so the heating and cooling systems can be turned on and off anytime, anywhere.

Intuitive user interface and controls

The LED display should be easy to read and responsive to the touch, both of which are a must for reading the information and adjusting the settings. Many thermostats even have large backlit displays and ambient lights that make programming in dim light conditions easier.

Your unique needs and wants in a programmable thermostat will obviously determine your final choice. You may want a thermostat with remote access, for example, because it offers more convenience and control over your HVAC footprint. You may also choose a thermostat without remote access because it’s more cost-effective, as well as allows for several temperature points during a 7-day period.

Nest (T3007ES) Learning Thermostat, Easy Temperature Control for Every Room in Your House, Stainless Steel (Third Generation), Works with Alexa

ecobee4 Smart Thermostat with Built-In Alexa, Room Sensor Included

Honeywell RTH9580WF Smart Wi-Fi 7 Day Programmable Color Touch Thermostat, Works with Alexa

Lux Products TX9600TS Programmable Large Touchscreen Heating Cooling Thermostat, White

Emerson Sensi Wi-Fi Thermostat for Smart Home, DIY Version, Works with Alexa, Energy Star Certified

Honeywell Home Wi-Fi 7-Day Programmable Thermostat (RTH6580WF), Requires C Wire, Works with Alexa

Emerson Sensi Wi-Fi Thermostat for Smart Home, DIY Version, Works with Alexa, Energy Star Certified

Orbit 83521 Clear Comfort Programmable Thermostat with Large, Easy-to-Read Display

Coleman Airxcel 8330-3862 T-Stat Wall Digital Heat/Cool

GoControl Thermostat, Z-Wave, Battery-Powered, Works with Alexa

Nest Learning Thermostat 3rd Generation

The latest Nest Learning Thermostat is rated as the best among numerous lists of best programmable thermostats because of its wide range of useful features and its beautiful design.The Google-owned smart home company definitely learned from its mistakes from the previous generations,because the third generation came out so well.

Features

Stylish design

The all-new design features a slimmer profile that makes it almost blend into the wall, while its larger screen boasts of clearer and crisper images. Specifically, the screen is 40% larger than the previous versions, while the improved resolution (i.e., 229 ppi) makes for better visibility even from a distance.  But Nest designers probably thought that the rounded design, display style, and stainless-steel dial were perfect for the thermostat – if it isn’t broken, then don’t fix it, after all.

Automatic scheduling

The thermostat is among the few that learns the preferred temperatures of its user,so to speak, thanks to the Auto-Schedule feature.  While it takes about a week or so for the thermostat to program itself based on your preferred times and temperatures, you can just let it be, since it will automatically make the adjustments. You can also override the system, if your preferred temperatures or schedule changes.

You can also adjust the settings from anywhere and anytime via the app, which should be downloaded to your smartphone, tablet or laptop.  You will also find the Far-Sight feature such a delight, mainly because the current temperature will be displayed when the thermostat detects motion from 10 feet or so away.

This feature is powered by the thermostat’s built-in sensors, which track a user’s whereabouts within their range. The thermostat then makes automatic temperature adjustments based on the movements monitored in your home although, again, you can override them (i.e., manual tweaks) via cellular or Wi-Fi connection.

Other notable features include:

  • Family Accounts and Home/Away Assist
  • Furnace Heads-Up
  • Works with Google Home and Amazon Alexa
  • Nest Leaf for maximizing energy savings

The Nest Learning thermostat also has Energy Star certification. But the most important aspect of its design is that it actually helps in energy savings.

Pros

  • Slimmer profile and larger display
  • Works with Amazon Alexa
  • Learns the user’s schedule and preferred temperature
  • Adjustable but also programmable
  • Reduces energy costs with proper use

Cons

  • More expensive

Summary

The Nest Learning thermostat is among our choices for the best programmable thermostats because it’s so easy to install and use, as well as filled with features that can actually be used.

Ecobee4 Alexa-Enabled Thermostat with Sensor

The Ecobee4 is among the smartest of the smart thermostats on our list for many reasons. But its price may turn off the budget-conscious consumers until they realize that, indeed, its benefits outweigh its cost by a significant degree.

Features

Easy-to-use touchscreen display

The touchscreen controls are easy to use and responsive to the touch, so that it outweighs the less-than-chic styling, especially in comparison with the gorgeous Nest Learning thermostat.

Remote sensors at work

The Ecobee4 has remote sensors that detect the temperature and movements in whatever room these are placed in. By tracking these things, the thermostat can monitor hot and cold spots in your home so that adjustments in temperature can then be made.
Your home will be as comfortable as you want it to be, temperature-wise, especially when you install more room sensors (i.e. sold separately).

We like the Ecobee4 because of its exceptional performance where it matters most – it turns on the air-conditioning unit during hot days and it turns on the heating system on cold days. When you come to think about it, every thermostat worth its money should deliver on such a basic yet crucial function.

You can also place as many sensors as you want in your home’s zones. The thermostat will then sense which rooms are being used and what temperatures are preferred for them so that adjustments can be made. This is a convenient feature because of the more efficient use of energy – instead of the entire house being warmed up or cooled down, only specific areas are subjected to changes.

PEK for ease of installation

The Power Extender Kit (PEK) that comes with the unit makes it easier to install it, even when it requires a C-wire for its proper use. The Ecobee4 designers have even restyled the kit from its larger buttons and bigger terminals, as well as the magnet at the back for installing on an HVAC unit.

The thermostat is also compatible with Alexa Voice Service, which has thousands of so-called skills including adjusting the settings.It is also compatible with apps on iOS and Android devices.  These features are all designed to save on energy bills by as much as 23% on annual costs – at least, that’s what the manufacturer claims.

Pros

  • More stylish design with reduced screen glare and responsive touch-activated icons
  • Easy to install with PEK and easy to use with touchscreen
  • Results in energy savings when used properly
  • Slim and sturdy case

Cons

  • Thicker and larger design makes it seem bulkier

Summary

If you still have a manual thermostat at home, then you should consider the Ecobee4 because of its smart features that perform virtually all of the things you would want a thermostat to do.

Honeywell RTH9580WF Smart Wi-Fi 7

The Honeywell thermostat gives the Nest Learning thermostat a run for its money, thus its inclusion on our list. Such is its popularity that it is the most popular product of its kind on leading online shops. This isn’t surprising as it’s a strong and sturdy workhorse with plenty of useful features most homeowners will love – and all at a more affordable price, too!

Features

Responsive and intuitive touchscreen

The interface is among the best we have seen so far, thanks to the wealth of information displayed on it, such as the indoor and outdoor temperature and humidity and the thermostat status. You can even customize the color scheme of the LED display including color, brightness and shade levels. You will likely love that that it has a slim profile – almost half that of the Nest – so it appears to have come out of the wall.

Remote control for users

The thermostat comes with its own free companion app, which works on iOS and Android devices. You can think of it as your remote control for the thermostat, since it allows for remote programming of its settings. You can select your preferred temperature at certain times, such as when you come home or when you wake up, so you can enjoy comfortable surroundings whenever you’re home.

Plus, you will also like that it learns your system’s heating and cooling cycles, as well as learns the amount of time it takes to warm up or cool down your system until the desired temperature is achieved. This means more energy savings than making manual adjustments.

The app also provides another useful operations aspect – email alerts. You can get alerts whenever deviations occur that may require your immediate attention, such as the temperature and humidity being lower or higher for a certain period of time, lost server connection, and failure to respond to a command. You will also receive an email alert when normal conditions have returned.

This isn’t a smart thermostat if it doesn’t result in energy savings – and that’s exactly what the Honeywell unit delivers. Just be sure to read the instruction manual for more information on its proper use.

Pros

  • Learns your preferred temperature
  • Intuitive touchscreen interface
  • Easy setup and use
  • Email alerts

Cons

  • No energy usage reports
  • Update on style needed, perhaps

Summary

The Honeywell thermostat is just as its name says it is – it’s a smart thermostat that delivers as well as is expected of it, especially in terms of energy savings with proper use.

Lux Products TX9600TS Universal 7-Day Programmable Touch Screen Thermostat

The Lux thermostat isn’t the most luxurious feature-wise in the market today, but for what it does do, it performs exceptionally well. Upon closer inspection, it doesn’t even have the remote-control features of other thermostats, such as the Nest and Ecobee4 mentioned above. But if you’re looking for exceptional performance in turning on and off your heating and cooling system several times a day for energy-saving purposes, then it’s your best choice.

Features

Ease of installation and use

We appreciate the detailed instructions on the installation video provided by Lux for this thermostat. While additional wires will be necessary for certain systems, it’s an easy installation – just remove the old thermostat and install the wires for the new one and you’re done within 30 minutes or so, depending on your skills.

Once installed, the thermostat virtually runs by itself after you have programmed it. You can use the manual override option in case you want to change the settings from your pre-programmed temperature and time settings. You can also prevent unauthorized access to it, thanks to the PIN lock feature.

The Lux thermostat also has larger characters that can be read well even from a few feet away. You will then be able to determine whether changes are warranted or when everything’s as it should be. You will like the intuitive display, too, especially when it’s your first time using a smart digital thermostat.

​​​​Energy-saving features

The Lux programmable thermostat has a 7-day program feature, a convenient feature when you want to arrive at a comfortable – not too cold, not too hot – home.  You can set the temperature for certain days and hours, which will be followed unless you manually tweak it.  You also have a choice of either 2 or 4 settings for heating and cooling for each day.

With such programming feature, you can enjoy savings on your energy bill,up to as much as $200 for the average residential use. You must, however, choose the right settings since a programmable thermostat is just a tool, not the be-all and end-all of it.

Pros

  • Easy to install, as there’s no common wire needed for most systems
  • 7-day program with 2-4 heating and cooling choices on any day
  • Compatible with most systems
  • Air filter alert
  • PIN protection
  • Easy-to-read controls on touchscreen
  • Energy use reports

Cons

  • No remote access connection
  • Annual battery replacement needed

Summary

The Lux thermostat may not be as beautiful as the Ecobee4 and the Nest Learning thermostats, nor equipped with aremote control like the Sensi, all of which are discussed here, but we consider it among the best programmable thermostats.  Aside from its inexpensive price, it’s also easy to install and use, even for homeowners who aren’t tech-savvy.

Sensi Smart Thermostat, Wi-Fi, UP500W

The Sensi thermostat has an easy-to-use remote control and easy scheduling features that we prefer in smart thermostats. Plus, it’s more reliable in terms of stable connections than Nest, a plus in our books.

Features

Practical design

Thermostats are designed to be practical appliances, so it also goes that these should have practical designs. We like the Sensi’s simple design because it goes straight to the matter of turning on and off the heating and cooling system. The slim profile is a plus.

Registration of the unit

The unit cannot be used without its complete registration – no registration, no full integration with the Sensi system and no full operation. But the account registration process is easy, so there shouldn’t be a problem in this area. After registration, you can set up your schedules and program your preferred temperature on the hamburger menu.

You can also refer to the illustrated instructions that come with the program or call the dedicated support team for more details. You can build a weekly schedule of your heating and cooling times, too.

This is also compatible with most systems, with the exception of certain routers, line voltage and electric baseboard heat, and gravity furnaces. Again, we suggest calling the dedicated support team for more information about compatibility and installation matters.

Programming features

You can easily program your preferred temperature settings if you have a relatively predictable home schedule, such as waking up and coming home. You can even change the temperature in case you have a varying schedule or you want different schedules for the weekends and weekdays. Such customization is part of the reason for the popularity of smart thermostats in comparison with their non-digital versions.

We like the LCD display, too, because of the information it provides. You can see the interior and exterior temperatures, the system status, and the time of day. You can access the schedules, change the settings, and see the system status by using the dedicated app for as long as you have aWi-Fi connection.

Pros

  • Plenty of integration features with Amazon and Wink Home Hub
  • PIN lock
  • Memory recovery feature
  • Remote control features
  • Easy installation and use
  • More affordable price with little sacrifice in features

Cons

  • No data usage reports

Summary

The Sensi thermostat’s app integration and remote-control features are the main reasons for its inclusion in this list. Its affordable price is the icing on the cake.

Final Verdict

The five best programmable thermostats reviewed here will definitely pay for themselves sooner than expected.  The energy savings that can be enjoyed from their proper use will pay for the costs of the units in as little as a year – and with these units lasting for several years, you will definitely get your target return on investment!