Programmable Thermostats Rank High with Popular Green Home Improvements

By John Voket


May is National Home Remodeling Month, so I’m tapping into a recent National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) survey ranking the most common building features consumers are using to improve energy efficiency in their homes.

Programmable thermostats clocked in at third place among the most popular green home improvements among those surveyed by NAHB.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency ( estimates a homeowner paying about $1,000 in energy bills can save just under $200 annually by using a programmable thermostat. An Energy Star qualified programmable thermostat can provide flexible pre-programmed settings to regulate a home’s temperature year round—whether occupants are home, asleep or away.

George Brazil (, one of the leading heating and air service provides in the Phoenix area, offers three tips for buying the right programmable thermostat:

1.) Pick one that fits your weekly schedule—programmable thermostats have four available scheduling models:

  • 7-Day: Program a different schedule for every day of the week—generally the most expensive model.
  • 5-1-1 Day: Program three temperature schedules (weekdays, Saturday and Sunday)
  • 5-2 Day: Program two temperature schedules (weekdays and weekends)
  • 1-Week: Program one schedule for the entire week—generally the cheapest model.

2.) Make sure it can work with your air conditioning/heating system. Some programmable thermostats don’t work with certain air conditioning/heating systems, like multi-stage systems.

3.) Find features you want. Features that make programmable thermostats easier to use and help save money include:

  • Digital, backlit displays
  • Touch pad screens
  • Voice instructions and alerts
  • Hold/Vacation features
  • Mobile app usability
  • An auto heat/cool switch
  • An adjustable cycle that keeps your heating and air conditioning system from turning on and off too frequently.
  • Dirty air filter alert - a dirty air filter can make an air conditioning/heating system run longer, generating higher energy bills.

In our next remodeling month report, we'll take a look at ceiling fans.