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How to Use a Programmable Thermostat | Recommended Settings

how to use programmable thermostat - recommended settingsIf you are confused about programmable thermostat operation, you’re not alone. In fact, the majority of programmable and “smart” thermostat owners don’t know how to properly set or operate their thermostats.

Well, if that’s the case, they might as well just use an analog thermostat. Programmable thermostats are only as effective as the way you use them.

Programmable Thermostat Options

In addition to “smart” thermostats that learn your schedule and adjust themselves from there, there are 3 main models to choose from:

7-day models – 7-day thermostats provide the most control for setting your thermostat schedule. You can set a different schedule for every day of the week, usually up to 5 different temperature settings throughout the day. These models are best for homes that tend to have varying schedules throughout the week.

5+2-day models – These models set the same temperature schedule for the weekdays (5 days) and another schedule for the weekends (2 days).

5+1+1-day models – 5+1+1 models are the same as 5+2-day models, except now you have the option to have a different schedule for Saturdays and Sundays.

If you want to know how to properly set your thermostat, use the table below, courtesy of ENERGY STAR [PDF].

how to set programmable thermostat

Consult the thermostat owner’s manual for instructions on how to program your thermostat. If you have any questions about setting the thermostat, don’t hesitate to contact Gold Medal Service.

Tips for Maximizing Thermostat Savings

  • Install your thermostat away from anything that could give it a false reading, such as sunlight, light bulbs, doorways, air leaks, appliances, fireplaces, skylights, windows, and other areas that receive sunlight or drafts. Inaccurate thermostat readings cause your HVAC system to run even if its not needed. If you can’t prevent heat sources from affecting the thermostat reading, contact a qualified HVAC technician to find a better location.
  • Keep your thermostat at an energy-saving temperature most of the time. We recommend setting the thermostat to no higher than 68 degrees during the winter and no lower than 78 degrees during the summer.
  • Setting your temperature back 10-15 degrees for 8 hours or more can save you around 5% to 15% on your heating and cooling bill. That may not seem like a lot, but as the days progress, it adds up! According to the U.S. Dept. of Energy, it’s “a savings of as much as 1% for each degree if the setback period is eight hours long.”
  • If you feel hot, remove some layers and turn on a floor and/or ceiling fan. If you feel cold, add some layers and cook yourself a hot meal and drink.
  • Try to keep your energy-saving settings on for as long as you can. This is when your programmable thermostat helps keep the temperature steady for long periods of time while allowing you to raise the temperature at the exact time when you need it (coming home, going to bed, etc.)
  • When leaving your home on vacation or other reasons, use the “hold” function to keep a constant energy-saving temperature. We recommend setting the thermostat to no lower than 55 degrees in the winter and no higher than 90 degrees in the summer.
  • Try not to manually override your programmable thermostat settings. Each time you do so, you’ll be using more energy than necessary and may even mess up to the thermostat schedule. If you are unsure of how your thermostat works, find your owner’s manual or look it up online.
  • Similarly, don’t “oversteer” the thermostat. If you want faster heating and/or cooling, cranking the thermostat all the way up or all the way down won’t help. Your HVAC system operates at one speed no matter what temperature the thermostat is set to. Oversteering won’t heat or cool your home any faster, and you might forget to set it back to its normal setting. Simply set the thermostat to the desired temperature and let it be.
  • If you are sick of having some rooms and parts of the home hotter or colder than you want it, then you may want consider a HVAC zoning system. This allows you to have a separate thermostat for different parts of the home, creating what are known as heating and cooling “zones.” Ductless mini-split systems allow you to maximize comfort, convenience, and energy savings throughout the home. They are especially useful in additions and renovations, which don’t include ductwork. Since they don’t utilize ducts, you won’t have to worry about duct cleanings, sealings, or related inefficiencies.
  • Check your thermostat batteries and change them every year. A good time to check and change your batteries is during Daylight Saving Time in the spring and fall.
  • If you have a heat pump, ask your HVAC technician about a special thermostat. Heat pumps work best when they are installed with a properly designed thermostat.
  • If you have a manual thermostat, be sure to adjust the temperatures daily, before you leave the house and when you come back home. You can potentially save as much money and energy as people who own programmable thermostat. You just have to deal with the inconvenience of setting the thermostat manually. Try adjusting the thermostat 5-9 degrees when going to sleep or leaving the home (down in the winter and up in the summer).

Contact Gold Medal Service today for your Spring A/C Tune-Up and recommendations for the best programmable thermostat for your home.


To schedule your next home service visit, contact the professionals at Gold Medal Service.

Don’t forget to schedule your air conditioning maintenance appointment and professional cleaning. This annual service visit is crucial for maintaining your manufacturer’s warranty, extending the unit’s lifespan, and preventing a breakdown in the dog days of summer.

Give us a call today at 1-877-803-0511 or schedule an appointment online. We’re available 24/7 to solve all of your home service needs.

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