Programmable Thermostat vs. Smart Thermostat: Which Should I Buy?

In today’s technologically advanced world, homeowners have more options than ever when it comes to controlling their home’s temperature. Newer, hi-tech models provide precise temperature control and send and receive more data to your HVAC system. These models can save money by reducing energy usage. 

Two popular choices are programmable thermostats and smart thermostats. Both offer unique features and benefits, but they also have their drawbacks. In this article, we will explore the pros and cons of each to help you make an informed decision for your home.

What Is a Programmable Thermostat?

A programmable thermostat allows you to program a set temperature for specific days and times. You can program the temperature to run the same schedule for seven days or customize it for weekdays and weekends. 

The programmable thermostat will automatically adjust the temperature based on your input settings. By setting the thermostat back 7°F to 10°F for eight hours a day, you can save ten percent a year on heating and cooling.

Programmable thermostats provide savings based on the simple principle that the smaller the difference between the indoor and outdoor temperature, the lower your heating or cooling bill will be.

Based on your settings, a programmable unit automatically adjusts the temperature before you return home or wake up in the morning, avoiding any discomfort.

Pros of Programmable Thermostats

  • Energy Efficient: Programmable thermostats allow you to create specific temperature schedules, helping you save energy and reduce utility bills.
  • Cost-Effective: Compared to smart thermostats, programmable thermostats are generally more affordable, making them a budget-friendly option.
  • Easy to Use: Programmable thermostats with simple programming interfaces are often straightforward to operate.
  • Increased Comfort: By pre-setting temperature adjustments, programmable thermostats ensure a comfortable environment when you wake up or return home.

Cons of Programmable Thermostats

  • Limited Connectivity: Programmable thermostats typically lack advanced connectivity features, such as remote control or integration with smart home systems.
  • Lack of Flexibility: Some programmable thermostats have limited programming options, restricting customization for complex schedules or specific needs.
  • Programming Challenges: Setting up a programmable thermostat can be confusing for some users, leading to incorrect programming and reduced energy savings.
  • Limited Data Insights: Programmable thermostats lack detailed energy usage reports or analytics, making tracking and optimizing energy consumption harder.

What is a Smart Thermostat?

A smart thermostat provides a more intuitive approach to temperature control. It is different because it can track and learn your behavior and change temperature settings on its own based on previously learned behaviors.

Smart thermostats have excellent connectivity, integrating with and controllable by multiple devices with WiFi, such as computers, tablets, smartphones, and smart assistants like Alexa, Siri, or Google. You don’t even need to be home to adjust a smart thermostat. You can access settings and make adjustments whether you’re in the next room or miles away. Set the temperature while you’re heading home, and your thermostat will set itself to achieve the temperature you desire by the time you arrive.

Additionally, smart thermostats allow you to monitor your home’s energy use and efficiency. They collect data and give detailed reporting. You can view reports and see how long your AC or heater runs each day or week. The system can provide monthly energy reports, compare time periods, and alert you of any unusual changes in AC or furnace performance. They can even remind you when your HVAC is due to be scheduled for a tune-up service. 

Pros of Smart Thermostats

  • Advanced Connectivity: Smart thermostats offer remote control capabilities, allowing you to adjust temperature settings from anywhere using a smartphone or other connected device.
  • Learning Capabilities: Smart thermostats can learn your temperature preferences and adjust settings automatically, optimizing comfort and energy efficiency.
  • Integration With Smart Home Systems: Smart thermostats can seamlessly integrate with other smart devices in your home, creating a cohesive and automated ecosystem.
  • Energy Monitoring and Insights: Many smart thermostats provide detailed energy usage reports, helping you identify patterns and make informed decisions to reduce energy consumption.

Cons of Smart Thermostats

  • Higher Cost: Smart thermostats are generally more expensive than programmable thermostats, which can be a deterrent for budget-conscious homeowners.
  • Complexity: The advanced features and connectivity options of smart thermostats can make them more complex to set up and operate, requiring technical knowledge or professional installation.
  • Potential Privacy Concerns: Smart thermostats collect data about your temperature preferences and usage patterns, raising privacy concerns for some individuals.
  • Reliance on Internet Connectivity: Smart thermostats heavily rely on a stable internet connection, and any disruptions may affect their functionality.

Smart Thermostat vs Programmable Thermostat

Now you may be thinking, “Should I get a programmable thermostat or a smart thermostat?” When deciding between a programmable thermostat versus a smart thermostat, it’s essential to consider your specific needs, budget, and technological comfort level.

Smart thermostats provide excellent energy efficiency with their learning capability, advanced connectivity, and detailed energy reporting. They cost a little more than programmable thermostats, but the energy savings can offset the costs.

Are you thinking about upgrading your thermostat? It’s worth upgrading to either a programmable thermostat or a smart one. Newer thermostats may need more information or energy than standard ones and may require a new wire to be run. Additionally, thermostat placement is important to get the best quality data, and they can also sometimes require some calibration. 

If you need a thermostat upgrade or calibration in Olympia or Thurston County, Washington, contact Black Hills Inc. today!