Although specific features vary from manufacturer to manufacturer, most programmable thermostats also allow you to adjust your home’s heating and cooling system to run more efficiently during long absences, like times when you’re away on vacation.  Many also alert you when it’s time to change your filter, and some allow you to adjust and monitor your heating and cooling system remotely using a computer or smart phone.

Basic programmable thermostats are available from around $35 while more advanced models, with more features can cost significantly more.  Full-featured models are available from around $50 to $100, but the savings can definitely justify the one-time cost.  Energy Star estimates that installing a programmable thermostat can shave about $180 off or your annual energy costs.

Making the switch from a basic, manual model to a programmable thermostat is a fairly simple process that can be performed by most do-it-yourselfers or by a qualified heating and air conditioning repair company. Programming your new thermostat is as easy as setting your bedside clock radio. Keep in mind that manual thermostats frequently contain toxic amounts of mercury so you’ll need to exercise caution when handling and disposing of your old thermostat.  The EPA Web site is a good source of information on proper thermostat disposal.

Have you installed a programmable thermostat in your home?  Have you seen a difference in your heating and cooling costs?  We’d love to hear your story.  Please post your comments below.