Thermostats control the climate within the home.  What you need to ask yourself is do you want to simply set the temperature in the home or do you want to control the temperature as well as save energy?  Yes, you can have it both ways in this instance.

  • Programmable thermostats can help conserve energy and save on energy costs.  They can be programmed so that the furnace or air conditioning doesn’t come on when you aren’t in the home.  Suppose you’re going on vacation for a week.  You won’t need to heat or cool the home while you’re not in it so program the thermostat to keep the furnace or air conditioning off for that week.  However, keep in mind the forecast temperatures.  Suppose the forecast temperature is 5 degrees below zero.  Let the heat come on occasionally to maintain a temperature in the home above freezing.  You certainly don’t want to come home to frozen and ruptured pipes.  Truth be told, programmable thermostats are a little more expensive but the energy savings will certainly make up for it.
  • Non-programmable thermostats simply control the temperature in the home.  They are really quite basic.  They are usually mechanical however they do make digital non-programmable thermostats.  They can be used to help conserve energy, but you’re going to have to do it manually.  When you leave on that week long vacation you’re going to have to physically dial the temperature back yourself.  That’s not a huge inconvenience, it’s just one more thing you’ll have to worry about.  Once again, keep the forecasted temperature in mind before setting the temperature.  They are very basic so they are, comparatively, less expensive.

Deciding on a non-programmable versus programmable thermostat isn’t really a hard decision.  The hardest decision is deciding what your goals are and what equipment will best help you to achieve those goals.  Regardless of which type of thermostat you choose, definitely do some research on that particular model and make sure it will help to accomplish your goals.  Just like any piece of HVAC equipment, how well thermostats work really depends on the installation.  Make absolute sure that it is installed correctly per the manufacturer’s specifications. If your uncertain about installing the thermostat yourself, call your local professional heating contractor to do it for.