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Programmable vs smart thermostats

Being in the age of programmable and smart thermostats, the days of rotating a dial on a manual thermostat are slowly but surely coming to an end. Recent years have seen manufacturers go head-to-head to create some of the most intelligent and easy-to-use thermostats. However, the introduction of smart thermostats has kicked off a whole different ball game.

What is a programmable thermostat?

A programmable thermostat allows you to set automatic heating schedules for a certain number of days (up to 7 depending on the model). A big difference between programmable and non-programmable thermostats is the amount of money you could save on your energy bills, as well as the obvious gain in convenience. On a programmable thermostat, you can easily set a schedule that alters your heating settings once you’ve left home, especially if you’re out from 9am till 5pm, and may not return home till 6pm.

Be aware that some first-generation digital thermostats are more of a souped-up version of a standard manual-dial thermostat, so keep a look out when making your digital thermostat purchase. Be aware that some programmable thermostats have limited scheduling features. For example, some limit how many programs you can set per day, or only allow you to set one daily schedule that repeats every day for 7 days. While you can always override the automatic programs by manually adjusting your heating, it does somehow take away from the convenience of having a programmable thermostat in the first place. Could a smart thermostat be the one to fix these limitations? The short answer: Yes, they can – and they do a good job of it too.

What is a smart thermostat?

A smart thermostat will give you more control of your heating schedules, especially if you prefer to separate schedules for different days of the week. Not only will you save money by heating your home more intelligently, but you can will also be able to keep track of your energy use using the thermostat app.

Some smart thermostats have a variety of self-learning and intelligent features, which can include the use of local weather forecast reports or learning from your day-to-day routine to change your heating settings. Making the choice between smart thermostats can be completely up to your own opinion and your desired features. If you prefer a thermostat that has all the singing and dancing features with a smart phone app but also allows you to set schedules manually out of the box, you should look at British Gas’ Hive thermostat. If you’re looking for a learning thermostat that takes in your daily routine and sets up a heating schedule automatically, take a look at the Nest thermostat. We have recently reviewed these two thermostats, so head over here if you want to know more.

You probably dread the prospect of being faced with the challenge of spending hours reading manuals to make sense of a programmable thermostat’s many interfaces and controls. Thankfully, due to the introduction of smart thermostats, you are now able to easily navigate their interfaces while also using the smartphone app. It has been the mission of manufacturers to make the use of a thermostat the simplest it can possibly be.

Which type of thermostat should I choose?

Despite the introduction of programmable thermostats, many people still rely on manual thermostats, especially in older buildings. Making the switch from manual to programmable is a wise move as the limited accuracy and the inability to create schedules of the former can easily become a costly problem. Digital thermostats offer far better precision and control over your heating.

However, if you compare smart and programmable options, the smart options reign far more supreme due to their sought-after scheduling features and use of a mobile app. The inability to schedule flexibly and the hassle of manually programming your thermostat can be an off-putting factor for people looking to invest in a digital thermostat. You could also make further energy savings if you switch to a smart thermostat.

To summarise

  1. You will find it far easier to change your schedule with a smart thermostat.
  2. Some programmable thermostats may only offer one schedule, but with a smart one it could be multiple.
  3. Some smart thermostat apps give you control over multiple zones, whether that’s different rooms in your home, or even multiple homes.
  4. You will benefit from hot water control with some smart thermostats.
  5. The user-friendly nature of smart thermostats immediately rivals a programmable thermostat due to its simplicity.
  6. Smart thermostats are generally better designed and fit in nicely with your home decor.
  7. Schedules can automatically change due to forecasts, local time changes or your day-to-day activity

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