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Reviews and General Information on Programmable Thermostats
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Thermostat Buying Guide

Some of you may think that buying a new thermostat is as simple as choosing a brand, the features you would like and of course, something that will look nice when it’s mounted on the wall. However, as my research taught me, there is a lot more to it than that.

If you have already been through various pages on my website or have at least read the homepage, you will know that I have put this site together so other people can find everything they need in one place. Believe me, I know what it’s like having to go from one place to another in order to find all the information you need.
So, just for you I have added the buying guide below.

Your Current System

Your current HVAC systemThere are various terms you will come across that relate to what type of heating or cooling system your thermostat will work with. Single and two stage are the most common, and for heating you can also have three stage support. Basically what this means is that multiple stage furnaces have more than one level of heat output, allowing for smoother operation and more efficiency.

Usually there’s only room for one heating and one cooling system to work with multiple stages, but there are models of thermostat that can work with as many as 4 heat and 3 cool functions. Plus if your main heating source doesn’t support two stage heating, some thermostats allow you to set an auxiliary heat source as second stage.

If this seems a little confusing, let me give you an example: If you have a system that incorporates air conditioning, a hot air system and baseboard heat this is a “two heat” “one cool” system, and you could set your baseboard as first stage and your hot air system as second stage.

Do not forget that back-up heat is an additional heat source. Therefore, in regard to the example above, you will need a thermostat that supports three heat sources and one cool.

Programming Needs

Weekly ScheduleNow that you know the thermostat will work with your HVAC system it’s time to consider your programming needs, and the best way to go about this is by evaluating your living situation. Do you have a regular schedule? Do you live in a temperate climate? Are you often away from home at regular intervals?

These are all questions (and possibly more) that need to be answered.
At their very basic, thermostats don’t have to be programmed at all. You simply press a button in order to heat or cool and select the temperature you would like. This type of thermostat is perfect for people who are at home a lot and don’t mind having to wait for the desired temperature to be reached.

Of course, there are far more complex models on the market that will fit around just about any schedule you have. Some will allow you to set the same program Monday to Friday with the option for something different at the weekends (perfect for people who work and spend time at home on the weekend). Others go even further, allowing you the option to have up to four different temperatures throughout a 24 hour period, and you can even have different programs each day of the week.

If you really want something special in respect of programming, it’s worth thinking about a thermostat that will “learn” your schedule. The Nest Learning Thermostat I reviewed here is a perfect example of just how versatile programming can be with a device like this (although “programming” isn’t exactly the right word…).

Energy Saving

Energy SavingThis again, is something that’s high on the list for anyone looking for a new thermostat. In fact, even if mine hadn’t reached the end of its shelf life I would have already considered a new one for this reason alone (knowing what I know now).

Just about every brand of thermostat you will find on my website does take energy saving into account, and for good reason. A programmable thermostat, or even better, a model that learns your schedule can really help you save money. The more advanced models will even produce reports telling you how much energy you’re using and how you can utilize your system better, a feature well worth the slightly higher investment.

Remote Access

Remote AccessRemote access goes hand in hand with energy saving and programming flexibility because wireless thermostats give you greater freedom to adjust your HVAC system when you’re not at home. You just need to bear in mind you will need a Wi-Fi connection when initially installing the thermostat and when you want to connect to the system in order to change settings.

To understand how these thermostats can help you save money, just think of the situation where you unexpectedly have to work late and have the option to switch your system off remotely. However, for more information on the benefits of remote access and how they can lower you utility bills, you can also check this page I have added on the subject.


There are many things to consider when choosing a new thermostat. Hopefully the information on this page has given you an idea of the questions you should be asking and the best way to answer them.

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