How Does A Programmable Thermostat Work?

image of a programmable thermostat

The thermostat is a very important component of every type of heating and cooling system. Its main function is to provide accurate readings of the ambient temperatures within an enclosed space. HVAC systems rely on thermostats to maintain the desired temperature. For convenience and enhanced comfort, HVAC contractors even recommend programmable thermostats to their clients. However, have you asked yourself “How does a programmable thermostat work?”. Find out what these are and whether or not getting one is the right decision for you.

Let’s take a closer look at programmable thermostats and how they work.

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What Is A Programmable Thermostat?

As mentioned above, the thermostat is one of the key components of every HVAC system. Its sole purpose is to sense the temperature indoors and control the temperature of the hot and cold air that is produced by the heating and cooling system. There are also certain actions that can be controlled by the whole system, including an air conditioner or a furnace. By regulating the amount of the heat transfer fluid that flows and switching the system on or off, the thermostat also manages the system to a certain degree. This is how the desired temperature is reached and maintained within an enclosed space.

Let’s Compare Manual Thermostats & Programmable Thermostats

image of an old manual thermostat

A manual thermostat is one that requires input for it to maintain a certain temperature. This means that if you want to increase the room temperature by one or two degrees, you have to press the buttons on the thermostat to make this happen. A programmable thermostat, on the other hand, changes the temperature automatically, depending on the specific temperature settings that you have pre-programmed into the system. For example, during the winter, you could set the temperature to a lower setting at 11 in the morning when it is warm, then increase the temperature starting at 7 at night when it is starting to get cold.

Modern thermostats are usually digital. Of course, you could still find analog types in homes and establishments that use old HVAC models. Digital thermostats, unlike manual types, have a thermistor – a component that acts as a temperature gauge. The thermistor has metals inside it that change along with the changes in ambient temperature. Thermistors allow changes in temperature electrical resistance.

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Thermostat Microcontroller

The microcontroller is responsible for measuring electrical resistance. Once the reading is obtained, it is then converted into an ambient temperature reading. This reading is then used by the thermostat to sense ambient temperature. The programmable settings in a thermostat allow you to program it to reach and maintain specific temperatures throughout the day. In winter, for example, it is possible to program the thermostat to maintain a warmer temperature in the morning before you leave the house, decrease the temperature during the hours when no one is around, then increase the temperature again just a few minutes before you return home.

Settings on the programmable thermostats can also be used to regulate indoor temperature all day. Of course, this will depend on the fluctuations of the temperature indoors.

Another important benefit of programmable thermostats is that they are excellent for zoning. With HVAC zoning, you can create different zones or areas in your home. Each of these zones may be heated or cooled independently to the specific temperatures you prefer. This is the best setting for multi-level or multi-zone homes, such as large homes or buildings. Hot air rises, which is why the areas in the lower levels are often cooler compared to the rooms located on the upper floors. This creates discomfort, particularly with fluctuations in temperature. A programmable thermostat located in different zones can ensure that the ideal temperatures are reached and maintained.

What Benefits Can Programmable Thermostats Offer?

Below, we discuss some of the advantages that come with programmable thermostats.

Automatic Temperature Adjustment

Smiling Woman Adjusting Thermostat On Home Heating System

Because programmable thermostats can be programmed to heat or cool rooms and zones at certain times of the day automatically, they free you from having to adjust and readjust your indoor temperature. The automatic temperature adjustment settings offer the convenience of allowing the system to work for you just the way you want it to without requiring you to actively change temperatures when and if you need to.

Improved Home Comfort

Programmable thermostats can automatically adjust the temperature, which means that zones or rooms can remain adequately warm or cool throughout the day. This assures you of comfort regardless of the time of day.

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Better Temperature Control In Different Zones

Programmable thermostats can effectively control the temperature in multiple zones and independently at that. Since each zone or room can be heated or cooled using different temperatures, you are assured that each area achieves the highest level of comfort you want. It is even possible to turn off the heat or cool air in unoccupied rooms.

Avoid Stress On Older HVAC Systems

Homes that use older HVAC systems will find that installing a programmable thermostat can be very useful and beneficial. For one, if the HVAC system is used frequently, a programmable thermostat can help reduce wear and tear. For another, it could even help extend the life of an older HVAC system.

Reduced Heating & Cooling Costs

image of couple calculating savings after installing programmable thermostat

Yes, a programmable thermostat can help you reduce your energy costs and lower your bills. By allowing you to change the settings on the thermostat depending on your needs, your HVAC system does not have to work hard all day just to produce the kind of comfort you want. At certain times of the day, for example, the HVAC system can work at a fraction of its usual demand if no one is around in the house. This means that the system does not have to consume more energy.

What If I Don’t Want To Use An Automatic Temperature Setting?

If you do not want this function, simply use the override feature to allow for manual operation. When this feature is turned on, the automatic temperature setting is turned off. That way, you have complete control over your HVAC system. For convenience, however, you should consider using remote control while monitoring the temperatures. That way there is no need to be present all the time or be in constant proximity to the system. If you choose a thermostat that has WiFi connectivity, you can even program it using your smartphone or computer. Even if you have already left the house, you can set the temperatures at your preferred settings with just a few clicks.

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Is A Programmable Thermostat Right For You?

If you work on a regular schedule and want a convenient heating and cooling option, then a programmable thermostat is a good choice. You may want to avoid the hassle of controlling the temperature manually several times a day, so consider using a programmable thermostat instead. If you are the type of person who wants the house to feel warmer in the mornings and cooler in the evenings, you can program the temperature settings and forget about it. The thermostat will do all the work for you.



A programmable thermostat can offer a number of benefits – better control, cost savings, enhanced comfort levels, and convenience. It is a valuable addition for many residential and commercial buildings, particularly those where the occupants have different comfort needs. A programmable thermostat allows you to control your indoor environment to your liking and you can program it exactly the way you want. If this is a good enough option for you, call your local licensed HVAC contractor to discuss getting one installed.

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Point Bay Fuel is the leading heating and cooling service provider in Monmouth and Ocean Counties, New Jersey. We have certified HVAC technicians on staff, so you are assured that every job is precise, timely, and within budget. From installation and replacements to tune-ups and repairs, we got you covered. We can guarantee the most competitive costs in the area. Our goal is to prioritize your comfort and energy efficiency while reducing your heating and cooling costs. We even offer a guarantee on all the jobs we do for your protection. Call Point Bay Fuel today for your free, in-home estimate.

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