How to Set a Thermostat 2022


A thermostat activates your furnace or air conditioner to come on at pre-set times determined by temperature changes in your home or office. Energy experts agree that setting your thermostat to adjust to different temperatures when you're home and away helps to save money on utility bills. By programming your thermostat based on your schedule, you can save money while also helping to conserve energy.


Method 1 of 2:Setting Your Thermostat Directly

1Learn the differences between settings. If your home has central heating and cooling, then you most likely have a central thermostat to control it. Thermostats, whether programmable or not, will have many similar settings, including fan options, heating options, and cooling options.

2Turn on the fan. With fan options, you will most likely have “on” or “auto.” By choosing “on,” you will engage the fan on your system to circulate air through the home without heating or cooling it. The fan will run for as long as the “on” option is engaged. The “auto” option will only engage the fan when either the heat or air conditioning turns on and needs to be circulated.

The “on” option for the fan is generally considered an energy waster since it will require a decent amount of energy to move that much air on a constant basis. Due to this most people only ever leave the fan set to “auto.”

Many people use the “on” option simply to flush air out of a house—if something burned while cooking and you want to circulate enough air to clear the smell, for instance.

3Set the air conditioner. Depending on your model of thermostat, you will likely either have a small switch on the thermostat's faceplate or a cycle button to cycle between heating, cooling, and off options. You can prep the system to cool the home by moving the switch or pressing the button until you reach the “cool” setting. You will see a number on the thermostat display. This number is the ambient temperature in your home. Use the up and down arrows on the thermostat to set the temperature you want the home to reach. You will see a different display number come up that corresponds to the temperature you set.

You will likely hear the system click as it engages and turns on the air conditioning to lower the temperature in the house to what you have set.

The system will run until the house reaches the chosen temperature, and then it will automatically turn itself off and only reengage when the internal thermometer registers that the home is warmer than the set temperature.

You can use the same switch or button to cycle the system to “off” at any time.

4Set the heat. Setting the heat for your thermostat is very similar to setting the cooling option. Use the same switch or button to cycle through until you reach “heat.” You can then use the same set of arrows you used to set the cooling temperature to set the heating temperature. Again, the system will only run when the internal thermometer registers that the ambient room temperature is colder than the set temperature.

You may also see an “EM heat” or “emergency heat” setting on your thermostat, especially if you live in an area prone to bitter cold conditions. This setting corresponds to a separate electric heating unit in the home in the event that the larger system breaks or freezes over during winter. While it does not hurt to test the emergency heating option periodically, you should stick to the standard heat setting for day-to-day use.

Method 2 of 2:Programming Your Thermostat

1Read the manual. While all programmable thermostats have roughly the same functions, they aren't universally operated in the same manner. If you have the manual for your thermostat, keep it handy in case it has a unique set of operations.

2Determine your schedule. Track when you leave the house (or workplace) and are away regularly for at least 4 hours. Make notes about your schedule for 7 days, including all 24 hours each day.

3Program time and date information. The current time and date must be entered into your programmable thermostat for it to function properly. Nearly all thermostats have a button that reads “set” or possibly even “day/time” Press this button and a clock will appear on the display for you to set the time and the date. Use the up and down arrows to set the items and press the same “set” or “day/time” button again after each step to proceed to the next.

Prompts will indicate whether to enter the time as a twelve-hour increment or as a twenty-four-hour figure.

You may also need to set the day of the week, but it will follow in the same process after the time and date.

4Press the “set” or “program” button. Once you have the date and time programmed, you are ready to program the thermostat's schedule. Some brands will have an actual “program” button, whereas others may require you to scroll past the time and date information by hitting the “set” button several times. You will reach a screen on the display where it prompts you to set a “wake” time for weekday mornings. You may actually want to set the time very slightly before you wake up so that the system is already running.

Most thermostats will allow you to schedule weekdays and weekends separately, whereas some may allow you to schedule each day separately.

Again, you can use the up and down arrows to cycle through the time.

5Press “set” or “program” again to set a temperature. With the “wake” time set, you will now have to set the “wake” temperature. Press the respective button for your model thermostat again and the temperature will begin blinking. Use the up and down arrows to find the temperature you want.

Some models may allow you to set a temperature range so that you don't have to reprogram the thermostat with each season. For example, it may prompt you to set both a wake summer and winter temperature. This will ensure that the system heats when the ambient temperature is below a certain threshold and cools when above another threshold.

6Set the “leave” time and temperature. With the “wake” time and temperature set, the thermostat will prompt you to schedule the time you leave for the day during the week. Most people set these temperatures much higher during the summer or lower during the winter to conserve energy and run the system less while no one is home. Use the same process of hitting the “set” or “program” button and the up and down hours to cycle through and find the settings you want.

If you don't want the system to run at all while you're away, you can simply set it to turn on at a temperature that you know your home won't reach.

7Set the “return” time and temperature. The next time and temperature setting the thermostat will request is for what time you return home during the week. As with the “wake” setting, you may want to set the time fifteen-to-thirty minutes before you get home if you want to ensure that the home has already reached the temperature when you arrive.

8Set the “sleep” time and temperature. The fourth and final weekday setting the thermostat will request is for the time you go to sleep at night. Since many people might open windows during summer nights or pile on extra blankets during the winter, you can save money and energy by respectively raising or lowering the overnight temperature setting.

Wherever you set this temperature will hold over until the “wake” time and temperature you have set for the following morning.

9Repeat the process for the weekend. Once you finish setting the weekday schedule, the thermostat will prompt you to set the same four times—wake, leave, return, and sleep—for the weekend. As with the other settings, keep using the “set” or “program” button in order to advance the menu and keep using the arrows to adjust the times and temperatures.

10Press the “run” button to initiate. Depending on your thermostat model, once you hit “set” or “program” on the final weekend “sleep” settings, it may return you to the current day, time, and temperature and begin following the schedule. Other models may have a “run” button that you must press to initiate the schedule.