Smart vs. programmable thermostats: What makes them different?


a woman adjusting a smart thermostat

Ever leave home and realize you left the AC on or the heat turned up? Back in the day, you had no choice but to take a hit on your energy bill. Now you can adjust the temperature of your home right from your phone and have one less worry while away.

That’s just one advantage of a smart thermostat, and it’s not the only difference between smart and programmable.

Programmable thermostats

A programmable thermostat lets you set a pre-programmed daily or weekly schedule for heating and cooling your home. But you must be diligent in creating that schedule, and often times users don’t program them correctly. Smart thermostats solve that problem.

Smart thermostats

A huge advantage of smart thermostats is that they learn from your environment. When you change the temperature at a certain time, the thermostat takes note and can build a schedule based on your preferences. In other words, smart thermostats program themselves.

They can even pay for themselves by saving energy—the average home can save between $35 and $45 a year on heating costs. Smart thermostats can adapt to household patterns, occupancy and weather forecasts to keep you comfortable when you’re home and reduce heating and cooling costs throughout the day.

App-based control is another key benefit. With a smart thermostat, you can control the temperature remotely through an app on your smart phone, tablet or computer. Need to adjust your temperature settings when you’re away from home? No problem. You can even monitor your energy consumption in real time.

The most popular smart thermostats cost between $150–$250. Energy Trust of Oregon offers a $100 coupon so you can save immediately on your purchase and enjoy ongoing energy savings.