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A programmable thermostat can save money and keep you more comfortable. Here we cover these and other reasons why you should install a programmable thermostat.

Do you dream of toasty winter nights and cool summer days inside your home? Reaching that balance (without shelling out too much cash on your electric bill) can be a struggle. So maybe you have considered upgrading to a smart thermostat.

Having the tools to keep your home at just the right temperature isn’t merely a good way to stay comfortable throughout every season. It can pay off in other big ways. This is particularly true when it comes to reducing your heating and cooling bills.

Many people are successfully lowering bills by installing programmable thermostats in their homes. Is it time to consider adding one to your home?

Here are the three big signs that it might be time to look into an upgrade:

You’re Gone for Large Chunks of the Day

Your schedule is one of the most important factors to consider when it comes to determining whether it’s time to invest in a programmable thermostat.

An upgraded system could be a great option if you’re gone for a large part of the day. A programmable thermostat gives you the option to set a schedule for your heating or cooling system. This will tell it to shut off or decrease activity for certain periods throughout the day. That way, you won’t be wasting valuable energy to maintain your home’s temperature when no one is around to enjoy it.

The second big advantage is that your home will always be ready and waiting for you. You won’t have to deal with returning to a too-hot or too-cold house. Instead, set the temperature to return to a comfortable level just before you get home. Then, you can always walk into a comfortable environment.

You may think you’ve already got this problem solved. You just turn down the heat or A/C to a low setting before you leave in the morning. But when you get home to a sweltering or freezing house, you’re likely to crank the system back up to compensate. Then it has to work overtime, wasting energy on the sudden ramp-up.

With a programmable system, you can arrange to turn up the heat or air conditioning gradually. Set it so that it begins working in the hour leading up to your arrival, until an optimal temperature is reached.

Your Energy Bills Are Very High

It could be time to invest in a programmable thermostat if you’ve noticed that your energy bills are unusually high. This could be a sign that your manual thermostat settings are inefficient.

Constantly going back and forth between extreme temperatures could cause the mechanical components of your system to work harder than they need to. In addition to saving on daily costs, you could potentially prolong the life of your unit and avoid the need to cough up replacement costs sooner than is necessary if you program your indoor temperature settings instead.

Related: 20 Inexpensive Ways to Lower Your Utility Bills

You’ve Moved to a Place With an Extreme Climate

It could be a smart move to look into smart thermostats if you’ve recently purchased a home in a state that has extreme temperatures.

Being able to manage heating costs wisely could be beneficial for people in places like Boston, Buffalo, Detroit, and Minneapolis because they are among the cities with the highest average heating bills. In these places, you’ll be ahead of the game if you can adjust your heat settings according to the season and time of day. If it’s sunny outside and no one is home, your furnace can take a break. But before your feet hit the floor in the morning, the thermostat can crank up the heat so you don’t have to deal with barefoot feet on frigid floors.

The same thing goes for residents in states like Arizona, Texas, and Florida. In areas like these, air conditioning is more than just a luxury. You may need to keep the A/C going around the clock. Being able to keep your home consistently cool — without getting too cold — is important when temperatures are dangerously hot. A programmable thermostat can help you handle the heat without paying too much money.

What to Buy

Deciding between programmable thermostats really depends on your exact needs. If your schedule is pretty much the same day-to-day, you could simply settle for a more basic system like this one from Honeywell. If your schedule is unpredictable or you want to be able to make changes throughout the day, look for a WiFi-enabled system. Options range from reasonable systems, like this one from Honeywell, to more luxe options, like this ecobee panel.

If you want to get even more tech savvy, look into a system like Nest.  Not only can you program these thermostats remotely, but they also learn from you. The Nest and its competitors learn your habits and program heating and cooling schedules accordingly. The Nest system also offers in-home security cameras, smoke and CO2 detectors, and smart locks for your doors.

Related: 32 Super Easy Home Maintenance Tips That Will Save You BIG Money

Being able to set indoor temperatures in advance could ensure that you can enjoy safe, comfortable conditions without throwing money out the window. Whether you choose a simple programmable system or one that programs itself is up to you. If the three situations above apply to your family, though, a programmable thermostat should at least be on your radar. It could save quite a bit on that next electric bill.

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