A list of some of the most popular programmable thermostats and a few newer thermostats that are Wi-Fi enabled.
options for your home’s heating and cooling system control. In the past, a thermostat had to be set by hand when you left for work, came home, or went to bed. Now you can program a digital thermostat with several setbacks each day, constantly hold a temperature, or turn down the unit when you are away at work or for the weekend. Here is a short list of some of the more popular thermostats, including a new digital programmable thermostat that learns your temperature settings, has a motion sensor, and can be accessed remotely to change settings.
An estimated 10 million thermostats a year are sold as replacements and in remodeling, so there is a good chance you will be looking for a new thermostat in the near future. Each degree cooler a house is kept in a heating season, or warmer in a cooling season, translates to a 5 percent energy saving.
Honeywell RTH7600D Touchscreen - $60-$80
The Honeywell RTH7600D Touchscreen 7-Day Programmable Thermostat gives you simplicity and flexibility and does not interfere with your busy life. It can be digitally programmed for when you are away from the house or asleep, which will help keep your energy use efficient and your costs low. Heat and cool your house according to when you are there and what you need. This thermostat has a touch screen with a green backlight for clear visibility. The touch screen is easy to read because it uses text and not symbols that need to be decoded. The Honeywell Smart Response system is set to adjust the preheating and cooling of the house to keep you comfortable at the times you are home. It contains a sensor that will instantly determine if your house needs to cool down or heat up. This works well with all heating and air conditioning systems.
This product can be set with permanent day and time settings. With a convenient battery back-up system, those settings will hold even during a loss of power. You can also let it adjust automatically when daylight savings time comes around. It will also remind you to change your filter when it is needed to keep your system operating efficiently and at its best. Start using it quickly by following the simple installation instructions and user guide, and relax with the peace of mind that constant manual adjustments to your heating and cooling system are no longer necessary. This Honeywell thermostat includes a limited one-year warranty. With the thermostat, you will also get wire labels, necessary mounting hardware, all wall anchors, and the installation guide.
Lux Products TX9000TS Touch Screen - $50-$75
The Lux Products TX9000TS Touch Screen 7 Day Programmable Thermostat is easy to use, efficient with your energy consumption, and a good way to save money on heating and cooling costs. This product will provide thorough and exact temperature control just by touching the clear and visible screen. Installation is quick and easy, and can be done on your own in a matter of minutes. The display on the screen is well-lit and easy to understand. The thermostat is able to work with most heating and air conditioning systems. Set a different program for each day of the week if you want, or schedule your home to warm up and cool down at particular times on weekdays and different times on weekends. Setting the temperature of your home according to when you are there will help you save money on utility bills and keep you and your family members comfortable all year long. You have the option to program up to four settings in a 24-hour period.
This thermostat arrives programmed with a schedule that is designed to conserve energy. There is a keyboard lock feature that will prevent small children and others from disrupting the temperature schedule. This user-friendly device has a display that is easy to read and understand, and includes the date and time, as well as indicators for when the filter needs to be changed. You will know you are changing the settings when you hear the confirmation, and simple icons of snowflakes and flames will indicate whether the house is heating or cooling. The thermostat comes with the necessary mounting hardware as well as an instruction manual.
Hunter 44860 7-Day Programmable Touchscreen - $70-$100
The Hunter 44860 7-Day Programmable Touchscreen Thermostat costs $70 if you buy it from Amazon and over $100 if you buy it from the official Hunter website. This is a sophisticated 7 day thermostat with many useful functions. The thermostat has the all important Energy Star approval rating which is a guarantee that if used correctly the thermostat will save you money on your heating and cooling bills.
The Hunter 44860 has a good range of compatibility. It can be affixed to cooling only, heating only, millivolt systems, gas, electric oil, 2 wire hydronic and up to 2 stages of heating and 2 stages of cooling. It can also manage single and multi stage heat pumps. There is also the option to power the unit from the HVAC power supply or from batteries.
Installation of the Hunter 44860 is similar to other programmable thermostats but care must be taken. Reviews of the Hunter 44860 make numerous references to the poor instruction manual that does not help the user overcome a number of tricky issues including installation.
The Hunter 44860 is a 7 day thermostat. In other words, it gives you a program slot for each day of the week. One useful feature is that you can choose between 0, 2 and 4 custom temperature settings per day. This is different to most Lux Products and Honeywell programmable thermostats that have a fixed 4 periods a day to set up. You can also copy programs from one day to the next to speed up programming.
There is an Energy Star button that automatically switches the settings to Energy Star recommended set point temperatures.
Honeywell TH8321 VisionPro 8000 - $150 -$200
There is a large backlit touchscreen display that shows current temperature, set point temperature, and humidity in the room, fan status as well as battery and filter status. As with the Honeywell RTH8500D the Honeywell TH8321 VisionPro has an easy to understand programming interface that uses menus to make setting up the 4 periods for each of the week straight forward work. A nice feature of the Honeywell TH8321 VisionPro is the ability to remove the unit from the wall and program, from the comfort of an armchair.
The thermostat uses adaptive intelligent recovery to make sure the set point is reached at the start of a programmed period. This function makes sure the house is always the ideal temperature when you wake up in the morning or return from work. It takes the guess work out of programming and helps to make the home more energy efficient.
If you live in a climatic zone where the humidity levels can become very high then the Honeywell TH8321 VisionPro’s ability to control humidity will be of particular interest to you. It does this through dropping the temperature using the air conditioning. Keep in mind that this will increase energy consumption. The Honeywell TH8321 VisionPro lets you set up what humidity level you desire and the device will automatically regulate the indoor humidity levels for you. Controlling humidity in a home brings extra comfort to the occupants and protects wood flooring and furniture from warping.
The Honeywell TH8321 VisionPro also has a temporary hold to let you suspend temperature settings if you decide to take a day off work or stay up late. There is also a vacation mode that lets you set the thermostat on a timer so the house is comfortable for when you return from your holiday.
As would be expected on a thermostat of this caliber it warns you when the filters need changing and also when the battery is running low. It also warns you when the humidifier pad needs changing. As with the Honeywell RTH7500D and the Honeywell RTH8500D the programmed settings are automatically adjusted to account for changes due to day light saving. The thermostat also maintains programmed settings even after a power failure.
Finally, the Honeywell TH8321 also includes a keyboard lockout. This feature is not found on any of the other Honeywell TH models.
One possible drawback of this thermostat along with all Honeywell thermostats is a lack of swing control. This is the price paid for the promise made of keeping the room within 1 degree of the set point temperature. This issue is dealt with at length elsewhere on this site. Some people find the Honeywell alternative to swing control suitable and others complain that it leads to short cycling of the furnace.
Filtrete Wi-Fi Touchscreen Programmable Thermostat - $100
3M’s Filtrete Wi-Fi thermostat delivers the same type of control over your HVAC system with a user interface displayed on your Mac or PC, Smartphone, or tablet computer.
There are two issues to be aware of before you consider this thermostat; First, the thermostat is capable of managing only one heating and cooling zone; Second, the Wi-Fi element depends on AC power from either your HVAC system, 12 or 24 volts over the “C” wire, or a power transformer which is not included. Three AA batteries allow the thermostat to continue controlling your furnace, air conditioner, and heat pump during a power outage, but they cannot power the plug-in Wi-Fi module. The thermostat is branded 3M, but it’s actually manufactured by Radio Thermostat Company of America. This same company also manufactures virtually identical thermostats with Z-Wave modules instead of Wi-Fi.
Installing the thermostat on the wall and wiring is no different than most programmable thermostats, as long as you have a “C” wire available in your thermostat wire. However completing the setup for the Wi-Fi and programming can be complex and confusing. When the thermostat is first powered up, it creates an ad hoc wireless network that you join your computer to. The software then prompts you to join the thermostat to your wireless router or access point, so that it’s secured by whatever protocol you’re using to protect your network. The thermostat also supports up to WPA2 (Wi-Fi Protected Access) with AES encryption.
Another problem with the installation of the software is that it prompts you to upgrade to a $10 “premium” version so you can use your computer to program the device instead of just monitoring the thermostat. However, logging back into 3M’s website will allow you to access to the thermostat from anywhere you have Internet access. This may be a glitch, or it may be “fixed” later to limit free access.
Once the thermostat is installed and configured for Internet access through your Wi-Fi network, you can control the thermostat manually, launch a programming wizard, or manually set temperature targets for each day of the week. But the wizard isn’t very useful if your schedule doesn’t adhere to the typical Monday-through-Friday work week, with time off on Saturday and Sunday. The wizard creates four temperature targets per day by asking the time you wake up, the time you leave, the time you return home, and the time you go to bed. It then does the same for weekends. The other programming option, which we found more useful, is to establish four times and temperature targets for each individual day of the week.
The Nest Learning Thermostat - $249
Tony Fadell is a former Apple executive who led iPod and iPhone development from 2001 to 2009 that has taken his skill and experience to change the thermostat developed by his company Nest Labs. This new device will be available by mid-November 2011.
The thermostat has a stylish design, easy to use and has advanced features, like motion-tracking sensors that detect whether people are present and adjust room temperatures accordingly.
A person may set the thermostat four times in one day; upon getting up, going to work, getting back from work and going to bed. The thermostat uses those settings daily, then adapts to further changes. If a person is out of town each Monday on business, the Nest sensors detect that and switch to an “auto away” setting for lower energy use. The thermostat can be programmed, but it is easier to allow it to learn your habits in a week.
The device does not need to be programmed; you set it when you remember to do so. It can optionally get the outside temperature via Wi-Fi. There is a near-field proximity sensor that turns the unit on as you approach, as well as a far-field motion detector that turns down temperatures if the device doesn't detect your presence for two hours. Algorithms provide a good idea of home occupancy. There are temperature sensors, humidity sensors, and ambient light sensors. Power comes over existing thermostat wires, which makes it compatible with 85 percent to 90 percent of American homes.
The product will be sold online, through Best Buy, and via Watsco, the nation's largest distributor of heating and air conditioning equipment. Customers can preorder the unit for $249 and install it themselves or pay an additional $119 for the Nest Concierge service that provides for installation.