Programmable thermostats: the types available and how to choose the right one

Winter is coming, the cold starts to be felt and the time to turn on the heating inevitably arrives. However, there is one question - is it possible to save on costs? Can the thermostat affect consumption and costs? Is a thermostat or a programmable thermostat better? What is the difference between the two? How do I choose which is best in my case? In this article, we will try to answer all of these questions and shine a little light on the topic.

The difference between a thermostat and programmable thermostat

As we explained in a previous guide, a programmable thermostat allows you to programme when the boiler turns on and off on an hourly basis and to set two temperatures, defined as Comfort and Reduced. The Comfort temperature is that sought after in the dwelling when hanging out at home. The Reduced temperature, rather, sets the minimum level and is normally enacted at night-time or when we are out. So, what is the advantage? Couldn’t you just plug in and unplug the thermostat when you want? Well, it doesn't really work like that.

The advantages of a programmable thermostat

To fully appreciate the advantages of the programmable thermostat, consider this device from a different perspective than simply setting the degrees we want in the home.

A programmable thermostat is actually our best ally in the fight against waste. The ability to adjust and programme the Reduced and Comfort levels lowers the time the boiler is operating to bring the environment to the desired temperature. What’s more, modern smart programmable thermostats can interact with the heat generator in terms of the time taken to heat the room.

Bear in mind, a mindful use of heating has an impact not only on the bill but also on the environment thanks to the reduction in emissions.

Types of programmable thermostats

Let’s look at the different types of programmable thermostats on the market.

An initial and fundamental distinction is that between digital programmable thermostats - characterised by a display screen and adjustment via the functions menu - and analogue varieties that have dials for programming.

Then there are the wireless and Wi-Fi programmable thermostats.

The wireless system offers the possibility of installing programmable thermostats (and also thermostats) that can communicate via radio - hence, without the need for any wiring - with the receiver that drives an actuator, a circulation pump or the boiler directly.

The Wi-Fi programmable thermostat is, rather, characterised by the ability to communicate via the Wi-Fi network with dedicated apps able to control the device remotely, save data on the temperature progression and optimise consumption.

Finally, there are wall-mounted or built-in devices, which differ in terms of the installation method but not in the technical characteristics of operation.

How to choose a programmable thermostat

There are some features to consider when buying a programmable thermostat:

Programming - It must be simple, with the possibility of weekly and daily settings to maximise the advantage of the programmable thermostat.

Power supply - There are battery- or 230-V-powered devices on the market. It is thus necessary to determine whether or not there is an electrical power source in the site in which the device is to be installed. The advantage of the battery-powered programmable thermostat lies precisely in its freedom of installation, not being connected to wiring, and to the reduced consumption.

Wiring - In relation to the previous point, it is important to consider the wiring of the place in which the programmable thermostat will be installed. Are all wires present? If not present, can they be fitted? Is it impossible to complete the wiring (such as in buildings with artistic value)? Is the site where the wires have to reach near areas that could alter the perceived temperature (kitchen, windows, doors, and so on)?

Zones - How many zones is the heating system of our house divided into? If, for example, there is a single zone, it is possible to opt for a system that can be installed directly on the radiators.

Wi-Fi - For remote control via app and the smart function.