When it comes to heating and cooling your home, it can either make or break you in terms of cost. The amount of money that is spent on both can really rack up a bill at the end of the month. That’s why it’s important to have a smart system that knows when to turn it up, turn it down, and when to keep it at a comfortable level.
That’s why getting a programmable thermostat is one of the best devices you can get for your home to help reduce energy consumption and cost, plus it’s an additional way that you can be greener which is extremely important these days.
You might be worried that a good thermostat may cost you an extravagant amount of money, but you’ll be surprised to know that you can get some really great programmable thermostats for under $50 that can do everything you need, but not break the bank. That $50 investment will practically pay for itself in energy savings in under a year.
Best Programmable Thermostat Under $50
OUR TOP PICK
- 7 individually programmable days
- 4 program period per day
- Copy function to make each day’s programming easy
- Easy to see backlight that can be seen in the dark or from far away
The Orbit 83521 Clear Comfort thermostat is well known for having sleek designs and simple to use systems. The 83521 is a 7-day programmable device with each day having 4 individual temperature change settings make energy saving a breeze.
The best part about this model is the flexibility to program each day individually and the flexibility of making multiple temperature changes throughout each day. This means on a weekday when you’re usually away to work during the day you can set the temperatures differently than when you’ll be home each evening. It takes away the hassle of forgetting to turn down the temperature when you leave and turning it up when you get home as well.
It has an early start functionality so you’ll be sure the temperature will be at the desired level exactly at the time programmed. Buttons are easy to use and simple to understand. You can also interrupt the programmed settings with either permanent or temporary overrides.
While the thermostat looks good on the outside, the 4-post clips on each corner made it a bit flimsy and weak in terms of long-term durability of the unit. I suggest handling the unit with care when taking it apart for any repairs or cleaning. It also did not have any touchscreen capability and was confusing at first to understand the programming.
- Copy/paste schedules
- Energy Star recommended
- Bright display
- 7 day – 4x/day programmable sections
- Not suitable for bottom panel heating units or multistage heating systems.
- No touchscreen capability
- 5-2 Thermostat with weekday and weekend schedule settings
- 4 per day schedule changes
- Compatible with most basic heating and cooling systems
- Green backlight
This programmable thermostat doesn’t have all of the fancy buttons and functionality that you’ll find on most of the wifi models, which is what customers really like about it. It’s simple to use and easy to understand but yet still has 4 temperature settings per day to keep you saving money during the cold and hot months.
Simply set the wake, leave, return, and sleep schedules and this Honeywell thermostat will take care of the rest.
Honeywell has many different varieties of thermostats available, but the reason I like this one is for the simplicity of it. If you are someone who runs on a standard 8am-5pm Monday to Friday work week, then this is a perfect unit for you since it’s setup already for that type of lifestyle.
I really like that it has settings already for when you go to bed, when you wake up when you leave for work, and when you come home. It also can be integrated with most heating and cooling systems making it a very compatible unit for every household. You will also enjoy that it’s tested accuracy is between less than +/- 1 degree.
Using the unit is not intuitive at first with a lack of labels, but by reading the manual you can understand it. This does pose an issue for those who try to use the unit for the first time or if someone is watching your house while you’re away.
The Honeywell RTH2300B1012 also only has settings for 4 specific times per day which you can’t change as well as only a weekday or weekend setting as opposed to other units which have settings for each individual day.
- High compatibility with most systems
- Bright large backlight display
- Simple interface
- Highly accurate temperature
- Initial setup and programming difficult to understand
- Keypad not labeled appropriately
- 2 different settings for weekdays and weekends
- 4 different temperature settings per day
- Temperature initiation within +/-1 degree
This 5-2 weekday and weekend programmable unit ensures you’ll have the desired temperature that you need in your home no matter what time of the day it is. It has an easy to use interface and a large display that is easy to see and read from across the room.
This Saswell has a large LCD screen with a backlight option that can be kept on continuously, but is battery operated so use with caution. It has two programmable settings for both weekdays and weekends so you can set different schedules depending on the need.
I liked that I can set 4 unique temperature settings throughout the day depending on when I would be home or not, or if I was asleep or awake. It’s very compatible with most heating and cooling systems making it easy to integrate no matter what your setup is currently.
A drawback to this unit is that it is not compatible with electric baseboard heating units, but is compatible with most other heating systems. It also is very difficult to understand the programming settings at first which will requite you to read through the user manual prior to setting your temperature settings. There are thorough YouTube tutorials as well if needed.
- Large LCD screen
- Weekday and weekend separate settings
- 4 unique temperature settings per day
- The non-intuitive interface at first
- Blue backlight for easy visibility
- Adjustable swing between .5 to 3 degrees
- Adjustable override arrows for temporary temp changes
The PSP511LC is one of LuxPro’s most affordable thermostats that allows for 2 distinctive settings for weekdays and weekends using a batter powered system. This is a great choice for a simple system with some great functionality.
This device has an adjustable swing from .5 to 3 degrees which is great for efficiency as the system won’t need to continually start and stop every time the temperature drops a fraction of a degree. Setting it like this will allow your system to only have to startup once it reaches a certain threshold. This isn’t as common among thermostats and is a great energy saver.
I like the sleek design of this uni, as well as all of the buttons,s are hidden away under a cover so it looks simple and elegant on the wall but once opened up it gives you a lot of options for programming.
This unit has some really great functionality and is easy to use, however, it is limited to only 2 different day settings for “weekday” and “weekends”. This means if you need a more flexible schedule setup, you’ll have to manually adjust the temperature to meet your needs. Luckily LuxPro has easy-to-use thermostat buttons that make this easy to do.
- Temporary temperature overrides
- F and C compatibility change
- Low battery indicator
- Programmable weekday and weekend functions
- Bright blue backlight
- Not compatible with multi-stage heat pumps/gas furnaces
- Two settings for weekdays and weekends
- 4 programmable temperature changes per day
- Useable with gas, oil, and electric units
This unit is battery operated with a digital screen that displays the time, temperature, and if it’s in a heating or cooling setting. It has a sleek design with quite a few different buttons but still looks nice on the wall. This is an easy to use unit with a quick setup functionality best for those looking for an easy upgrade.
The best part about this unit is that the settings are simple to understand and easy to use. You’re able to program 4 different unique temperature settings per day for when you wake up, when you leave, for when you return form work, and when you’re ready to go to sleep. You also can specify different settings for the weekdays and the weekends.
The display has large font on a digital display with a lighted backlight for low-light viewing during the night time. This Emerson device maintains temperatures in a 1-degree differential so it kicks in before it gets to hot/cold.
While the price of this unit is really affordable, the biggest drawback is that the unit feels that it’s made from poor quality materials. While you can’t expect a highly durable unit for the low price, it’s still good enough to last years.
- Compatible with most basic heating and cooling systems.
- Two programmable settings for weekdays and weekends
- AAA battery operated
- Maintains temperatures up to a +/- 1-degree difference
- Cheap plastic casing
Best Programmable Thermostat Under $50 Buying Guide
Which programmable thermostat is the best in 50$ budget range?
Our Pick: LuxPro PSP511LC
Why? This great LuxPro device has many different functions and capabilities and has had incredible reviews from customers. Considering the affordable price, it packs so many great tools to keep your house comfortable year-round while still saving you money.
It has both a weekday and weekend setting which has an adjustable swing between .5 and 3 degrees which means your system doesn’t need to start and stop constantly when the temperature goes up or down a slight fraction. This is one of the only devices in this price range which had a larger range higher than 1-degree differential making it stand out among the rest.
Convenient up and down arrows to make adjusting the temperature on the spot quick and easy. It also looks sleek and simple as the buttons are hidden under a plastic cover that’s easy to flip down to make programming changes. It is also compatible with most heating and cooling systems that are found in homes. (Find out more on Amazon.com)
Frequently Asked Questions
How does programmable thermostat work?
A programmable thermostat can save you a significant amount of money on your yearly heating and cooling bills for your home, garage, or office if used properly. While having a properly insulated house and new heating and cooling systems will help with this, a key factor having a more efficient system is ensuring it only runs when necessary and it turns down or up depending on the situation.
How a programmable thermostat works is it is a digital device that allows you to schedule heating/cooling systems to run at different temperatures during different times of the day or week. This means that if you leave for work at 8am, your heating/cooling system will either shut off, or reduce/increase the temperature to ensure you are not cooling your home when you aren’t even there, or heating it when you aren’t either.
It also helps to ensure you are comfortable by making sure it begins cooling or heating prior to you arriving home which means you’ll always walk into a perfectly temperature-controlled home.
Programmable thermostat vs constant temperature
There’s quite a bit of debate within the heating and cooling industry about whether you should run a constant temperature in your home all day or if you should have a programmable thermostat that reduces it and then increases it at different times of the day.
The reason for arguing for the constant temperature is because some feel it is costlier to have your systems run very hard trying to warm/heat up your home during the programmable times that it ends up costing more.
Out of all the tests done, having a programmable thermostat in your home will always save you money as it does cost a lot to push your system when it has to change the intervals of heating and cooling, it cost a lot less than having a constant temperature as most homes have leaks and the hot/cold air inside will always leak out causing you to have to continually pay to control the temperature all day even if you’re not around.
While most people will jump right on a programmable thermostat as it’s pegged as one of the most cost-efficient ways of heating and cooling your home, there are certain situations where it is better and not.
The main advantage of having on is that during different times of the day you can keep your house at a lower/higher temperature when you’re not around. This means you can have the air-conditioning turned off while you’re away at work each day, and you can also have it cool your house lower an hour or two after you’ve already fell asleep since your body is naturally cooler when you’re asleep.
Here’s a summary of the pros and cons:
- Pro: Cutting down on energy use during non-active hours
- Pro: the Increased comfort of your home by having heating/cooling start just before you arrive
- Pro: Remote monitoring of your home when you’re not around
- Con: the Higher upfront cost of the unit, but affordable models are available
- Con: Difficult and time-consuming setup or non-compatible systems
How much can programmable thermostat save?
Around 50% of the energy used in your home is typically spent on heating and cooling, so saving some on that can help you be more efficient and earn some more vacation money. How much on average does a programmable thermostat save you though?
On average, a programmable thermostat will save you between 10-20% on your electric bill. With more expensive models, you can have higher levels of control (even remotely) which will help you save more on your bills, but with a higher upfront cost.
The most basic models, however, can save you more than 10% off your energy bill.
What thermostats work with Google Home?
While a programmable thermostat is already convenient enough and some come with apps that allow you to use their phone, there are times when you’re already snuggled into bed and you don’t want to get up again to adjust the thermostat. That’s where you can use your Google Home device (Hub, Home, or Mini) to adjust the thermostat instead.
Google Home is compatible with most smart thermostats but the one that Google has advertised as the most compatible is the Next Learning Thermostat. This is a sleek and modern designed thermostat that will allow you to verbally adjust the thermostat using your voice.
The following are some other compatible programmable thermostats:
- Ecobee4 Smart Thermostat
- Hive Heating & Cooling
- Honeywell WiFi 7-Day Thermostat
- Emerson Sensi WiFi Thermostat
- Honeywell Lyric T5
- CT50 7-Day Thermostat
What is the lowest temperature I can set my thermostat?
During the winter months, everyone gets frustrated with how high energy bills become, so if you’re headed away for the weekend or the month to escape to somewhere warm, what do you set your thermostat to? Some people don’t even touch the thermostat, but you definitely can lower the thermostat when you’re away in winter.
Our recommendation is to lower it to at least 60 degrees Fahrenheit, but no lower than 50 degrees Fahrenheit. Why is it that you can’t just turn off your head completely? The biggest issue is that low temperatures can freeze your indoor pipes causing them to burst and your home to flood causing severe water damage.
Additionally, when the temperature gets too low condensation easily forms which having water on wood floors, electronics, and furniture for extended periods of time can cause long-term damage.
What is the emergency heat setting on my thermostat?
When we see the term “emergency heat” it may seem like a confusing or scary thing and most people don’t quite know what it means. Emergency heat is used for heat pumps that are used in colder climates (below freezing zones) and they need additional heat sources to keep it running. This emergency heat usually comes in the form of electrical heating and is used as a backup heating. This is used when the heat pump itself is no longer sufficient to keep it warm enough to operate.
Each system typically has its own way of determining when this backup heat source is needed to keep the system running. This isn’t a long-term solution, so if your heat pump goes out or has an issue, it’s best to get that fixed, but the emergency heat is a great way to keep your home warm while you get someone to fix the primary heat source. To note, your emergency heat will be much more expensive than the normal heating source in your home.
What does a thermostat do if it gets too cold?
While most electronics will work under hot temperatures, the same can’t be said about cold temperatures. Most electronics will stop working when the temp gets below freezing at 33 degrees Fahrenheit. This means if you have an electronic smart thermostat located in a garage or outside, or if you turn off your heat completely, it may not work and you won’t be able to operate it and start your heating system.
A few things to note to prevent this from happening:
- Don’t ever let your home freeze completely as your pipes can burst once frozen and cause extreme damage to your home. Instead, set it to around 50 degrees Fahrenheit.
- If you have a separate heating source for your garage, place the thermostat inside your home so it doesn’t freeze.
- If you do have it located where it can freeze, you can often heat it up enough with your hands/breath to get it going, or you can use a hairdryer to get it warmed up enough to use it.
How will a cheap thermostat affect your house?
While at first glance you may feel that having a fancy expensive digital thermostat may just be a waste of money, a cheap thermostat can really cause your home issues. Some include the following”:
- Cheap thermostats may turn your furnace on and off too quickly which can cause your furnace to be overused causing its lifetime to go down.
- While a normal thermostat is said to last for up to 10 years, purchasing a cheap thermostat will usually lower the age of it. It’s best to purchase one from one of the more well-known companies like Nest, Honeywell or Emerson.
- Purchasing a smart programmable thermostat may cost a bit more, but it will save you tons of money in the long-run. They typically pay for themselves within 1-2 years if you properly use the programmable functions.
Is it better to keep your thermostat at a constant temperature?
There has been a long-time debate about the topic of constant temperature. On the one side, it’s said that it takes more energy to heat a home back up from a low temperature than to keep it on a constant one. After many studies were completed, it has been proven time and time again that the energy used to heat/cool your home back to the desired temperature after being gone is not greater than the energy to keep it constant.
The reason having a constant temperature isn’t more efficient is because every building (no matter how efficient) will have leakage. This means that hot or cold air is always trying to equalize to the temperature outside. That leakage will in return cause your heating/cooling unit to have to continue to run to keep it at the constant temperature. It’s better to program your thermostat to fluctuate depending on if you’ll be home or not.
Does turning down the thermostat save money?
The short answer is yes, turning down the thermostat will always save you money. While returning to your home will cause your system to have to run double-time to heat up/cool down again, the factor that’s the most important is while you were gone and you turned the temperature down you were saving money.
The reason you save more money when you turn the thermostat down is that your home’s rate of heat loss decreases at lower temperatures. If you kept your home heating at 70 degrees when you went to work, your home would constantly heat up to 70 but a lot of that hot air would leak outside. If you set it instead to 55 degrees, less of the heat would escape because the house would already be a bit cooler and your furnace wouldn’t’ run as much.
Digital thermostat turning itself up? What I can do to solve this issue?
Typically, this should never happen to you, however, with many cheap models or old units, this has become an issue being reported over and over. This typically happens two different ways for analog and digital. I’ll go through both of them below.
Analog models that start to malfunction typically can’t change the temperature on their own since they have to have the dial physically moved. It can, however, start to misread the temperature. So if you set it to 70 degrees, it sometimes starts to only heat your home up to 65 degrees and then stop. You can just pump up the temperature a few degrees and get it to go up.
Digital models that are old or cheap typically start to malfunction after 5-10 years and they can start to miss-fire in terms of when they turn your thermostat up or down. They can also reset themselves and just keep changing your programmed settings on its own.
In both situations, unless you have it under warranty for repair, you’re looking at needing the unit replaced to ensure it’s resolved.
What does the fan setting on my thermostat do?
There are quite a few good uses of the fan setting on your thermostat that can keep your home clean, fresh, and temperature controlled. The most common use of the fan is to help push the hot/cold air around your home to eliminate those hot spots.
Another common use is when you’re doing things like dusting, vacuuming, or painting to get the air circulated to remove odors or dust from the air. The particles in the air will be pulled in through your system and trapped in the filter ensuring the air is clean and healthy for you to breathe.
No matter your situation at home, if you still have an outdated dial then it’s time to start looking at an affordable upgrade to that with one of these programmable thermostats. It will pay for itself within only a couple months, and you’ll have a much higher level of comfort and satisfaction that your home is properly cooled and heated, while still saving you money.