One look down the thermostat aisle at your local home improvement store will show you that the equipment options are seemingly endless! The overwhelming number of choices leads homeowners to question “what kind of thermostat do I need?” Sanborn’s Air Conditioning & Heating shares information on the basic thermostat categories and why each may be the right choice in your home.

What Kind of Thermostat Should I Buy?

Choosing the right thermostat for your home starts with discovering the basic thermostat types. There are three main categories of thermostats: manual, programmable, and smart.

Manual Thermostats

Manual thermostats are the most basic models available. If you remember those circular dial style thermostats that were common in homes from the mid-1900s, you know what a manual thermostat is! Prior to the 1990s, they were the go-to thermostats in homes. It’s a manual style because you must manually adjust it by hand. While new manual thermostats shy away from the old dial design, you must push buttons up or down to adjust temperature settings. 


  • Inexpensive
  • Simple operation
  • Straightforward use

Programmable Thermostats

Around the turn of the millennium, programmable thermostats took over the market, advertised as a great way to save on heating and cooling costs. While many basic programmable models resemble current manual thermostats, their functionalities are quite different.

A programmable thermostat offers scheduling capabilities, so homeowners can preselect temperature adjustments and set them based on household schedules. When used correctly, you are able to set temperature adjustments throughout the day to conserve heating and cooling energy when the home is empty and return living areas to comfortable temperatures when your family is due to arrive home.

Of programmable thermostats, there are different sub-types available which have to do with their programming capabilities:

  • A 1-week model allows you to set a series of temperature changes that occur throughout the day. This schedule is applied to every day of the week.
  • A 5-2 model allows one set of temperature changes to run on weekdays, and a second set for the weekend days.
  • A 5-1-1 model lets you run one set of temperature changes across all weekdays, with separate schedules for Saturday and Sunday.
  • A 7-day model allows you to program unique temperature schedules for each day of the week.


  • Program temperatures ahead of time – no need to make manual adjustments!
  • Hold feature easily overrides programming for vacations
  • Saves on heating and cooling costs when used correctly
  • Reduces use of heating and cooling system and resulting wear and tear
  • Many options come with various user-friendly features
  • Models available with various price points

Smart Thermostats

Smart thermostats are the latest innovation, offering capabilities beyond a programmable model. With a smart thermostat, you don’t even have to set it! The thermostat’s learning technology and connected sensors detect occupancy and automatically adjust heating and cooling to the most efficient temperatures. They are Wi-Fi connected and easily accessed through a mobile app. 


  • Integrates with smart home hub
  • Wi-Fi connectivity
  • Mobile app accessibility while away from home
  • Enhanced HVAC energy savings
  • User-friendly features like voice control
  • Energy monitoring data collection

Thermostat Installation in the Inland Empire

Choosing the right type of thermostat comes down to personal preference. Models of each type are compatible with most types of heating and cooling equipment. Work with our trusted HVAC technicians to determine the best new thermostat choice for your home and heating or cooling system. Contact us today to request an estimate for thermostat installation.