Which thermostat is right for you?

Which thermostat is right for you?
Nest learning thermostat

Nest learning thermostat

Not long ago, most homes used a manual thermostat to control the heating and cooling system. Round or square shaped, it worked the same: You physically adjusted the temperature setting.

In winter, that meant turning it down before going to bed, racing to turn up the heat in the morning and then hopping back into bed while waiting for the house to warm up.

Then, technology changed.

Thermostats now memorize settings, making life easier and your home more energy efficient. However, advances in technology created a dizzying array of options for what was once a simple thing. Before making a purchase, be sure to check your HVAC system to ensure capability with the new thermostat.

Types of thermostats

Learning: These smart thermostats learn your daily habits so you don’t have to punch in a program. Using your preferences, the thermostat creates a schedule, assists you in finding energy-efficient settings and provides regular energy reports. Wi-fi capabilities allow users to monitor, set and manage learning thermostats from a smartphone, tablet or computer.

Remote energy management: Connects through a hub to your broadband network, allowing you to set, program and monitor heating and cooling from a smartphone, tablet or computer.

Programmable: Adjusts temperature automatically after programming preferences.

Related: Save Energy with a Programmable Thermostat

Digital non-programmable: Features an LCD screen, but requires manual control.

Mechanical/Manual: Temperature settings are controlled by hand.

Programming options

7-day: Program each day of the week separately.

5-2: Program separate weekday and weekend settings.

5-1-1: Set a weekday program and a separate one for both Saturday and Sunday.

1-week: Set one program for the week.

Bells and whistles

Many newer thermostats, such as the Nest Learning Thermostat, come equipped with high-tech features that boost efficiency and improve functionality.

Touch-screen controls: Change settings with your fingertips.

Selectable program periods: Set temperatures for different time periods.

Backlit display panel: Easy operation in no-light or low-light.

Indicator lights: Indicates when to replace the battery or change the furnace filter.

Battery operation and backup: Eliminates the need to reprogram after a power outage, and works in older homes where wiring isn’t available.

Remote programming and controls: A removable interface allows programming from a different location.

Keyboard lock: Prohibits others from changing settings.

Vacation mode: Change your temperature settings for maximum energy efficiency while away.

Thermostat prices

Prices for thermostats vary greatly, from basic, mechanical thermostats starting under $20, to high-end thermostats with built-in Wi-Fi, retailing for $250.


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Smart thermostats make smart decisions

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One nice feature of smart thermostats is that homeowners can access their system remotely, via a smartphone, computer or tablet device and change the temperature settings. (Photo courtesy of Angie's List member Rita H. of Nanuet, N.Y.)
One nice feature of smart thermostats is that homeowners can access their system remotely, via a smartphone, computer or tablet device and change the temperature settings. (Photo courtesy of Angie's List member Rita H. of Nanuet, N.Y.)

Smart thermostats save money and reduce energy use because they learn the schedule and temperature preferences of the homeowner and create a personalized schedule based on temperature preferences and activity in the home.

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