Wondering what all those buttons on your thermostat do? You’re not alone. Programmable thermostats are complex devices that allow you to control the temperature in your home—even when you’re not around! But doing so in a way that maximizes your comfort and efficiency requires an understanding of the different thermostat settings. Otherwise, you may end up with a heater or air conditioner running around the clock.

To avoid unnecessarily high utility bills and wear and tear on your system, we’ll teach you all about thermostat settings. With the right knowledge, you can select settings that balance performance, comfort, and efficiency. Continue reading to learn more about the most important thermostat settings.

1. Set Temperature

The most important setting on your thermostat is likely the temperature. The temperature function ultimately determines how hot or cold your home feels. It also controls how often your heating and cooling system runs, which impacts everything from how much energy it consumes to how often it needs maintenance and repairs. Even making a small change of one or two degrees can play a significant role in your monthly energy bill.

Programmable thermostats allow you to choose what temperature your system runs at all year. For the best results, you’ll want a lower temperature in the scorching summer months and a higher temperature once the cooler winter weather moves in. While there are no hard-and-fast rules about indoor temperature, it’s recommended to set your thermostat around 68 degrees during winter and 75 during summer. If you find those aren’t comfortable, try adjusting the temperature 1 degree at a time until you reach a comfy, ideal zone. Keep in mind that you can schedule your thermostat to relax by a few degrees when you leave the house for the day.

2. On and Auto

These settings let you determine how you want your HVAC fan to function. Switching the fan into “on” mode means it will run 24/7 regardless of what temperature the thermostat is set to or how warm or cool it is in your house. Keep in mind that running the system all day long will consume a significant amount of energy. This will most likely result in higher utility bills and increased wear and tear on your HVAC components.

If you don’t want the fan running all day, you can switch the thermostat to “auto” mode. This will allow your heating and cooling system to turn on and off throughout the day. Typically, it will kick on to adjust your home’s temperature to match the temperature you input into the thermostat. This makes “auto” the more energy efficient of the two settings. It can also help to lengthen the lifespan of your HVAC by reducing its daily workload.

3. Heat and Cool

When you think about your thermostat, the heating and cooling functions are probably the ones that come to mind first. To put it simply, the “heat” setting activates your furnace while the “cool” function switches on your air conditioner. You can further customize your comfort level by adjusting the temperature higher or lower. The lower the temperature, the cooler your house will become.

Most modern thermostats also have an “off” setting between heating and cooling. By switching the thermostat to “off,” it won’t communicate with either the heater or the furnace. Instead, it will instruct your system to simply circulate room temperature air throughout your home. This is a popular way to keep the home in your air fresh when you don’t need to change the temperature. It’s very similar to running a ceiling fan.

4. Home and Away

Programmable thermostats can detect when you’re away from home. Using this setting, you can program a particular temperature for the hours you’re home and a different temperature for the time you spend away. This setting can reduce your monthly bill by allowing your HVAC to work less rigorously when you’re at work or school. Smart thermostats are advanced enough that they can detect when you’re home and away based on your feedback via an app. Despite the sleeker interface, it achieves the same goal as a manually programmed thermostat.

5. Hold and Run

Being able to program your thermostat to accommodate your schedule is great, but we all know that life can throw a wrench into daily schedules. There are certain situations where you may need to adjust your thermostat on the fly. Luckily, thermostat manufacturers thought of exactly that! This is where the “hold” and “run” functions come into play. Instead of having to completely reprogram your thermostat, you can simply switch it to the “hold” function. This allows you to input a new temperature while ignoring the programmed schedule.

When should you use the “hold” and “run” settings?

  • If you’re sick at home and need to adjust the temperature to accommodate a fever
  • If you’re home on holiday during the period of time when you would normally be at work or school
  • If you’re hosting a party or get-together which makes the room feel hotter than usual
  • If you’re running the oven in your kitchen and the temperature rises as a result

You can keep your thermostat in the “hold” position for as long as needed, whether it’s a few hours or a multiple-day stretch. When you’re ready to return to your old schedule, all you have to do is slide the switch back to “run.” Once it’s back in the “run” position, your system will resume its regular schedule like nothing ever happened!

Your Heating and Cool Experts

Familiarizing yourself with the various settings on your thermostat will ultimately allow you to maximize your home’s comfort and energy efficiency. Not only that, but it also reduces the wear and tear on your home heating and cooling system. This means fewer costly repairs and less frequent replacements. After reading this article, you should be well on your way to mastering your thermostat. And for all of your other heating and cooling needs, you can rely on the pros from AC by J. Our NATE-certified technicians have serviced homes throughout Scottsdale and the Phoenix Valley since 1983. We were named a Top 5 Certified Contractor by the APS in 2019 and are part of the Pearl Certification Network. That means you can count on us for fast, reliable service for all of your heating and cooling needs.

Programming your thermostat isn’t the only way to maximize the performance and efficiency of your heating and cooling system. At AC by J, we provide top-notch repair, installation, and maintenance services for furnaces, air conditioners, heat pumps, and ductless systems. Our repair and maintenance services will ensure your system is in peak condition and efficiency. And if your system is getting old and inefficient, we can replace it with a SEER-rated unit from a nationally recognized brand. We strive to be your go-to solution for your home heating and cooling needs!

If you’re looking to maximize the efficiency of your HVAC system, call AC by J today!

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