Top 5 Best Programmable Thermostats Under $50 (2020 Review)

Are you interested in finding the best programmable thermostats that are under $50?

You have discovered a high quality review guide written by a licensed home inspector.

In this special guide from Home Inspector Secrets --- we will take a look at things like...

  • my #1 top choice for the best programmable thermostats (below the $50 dollar range)
  • the pros and cons of the best programmable thermostats
  • the most important features of programmable thermostats
  • why some thermostats are much easier to program than others
  • And much more...

Join me in this detailed review on the best programmable thermostats...

best programmable thermostats under $50

What Are Programmable Thermostats?

Programmable thermostats are specialized and highly customizable thermostats that can be pre-programmed so that it adjusts automatically without even touching the thermostat.

For example, if you work from 8am to 5pm, instead of keeping the heat at 75 degrees, you can pre-program the thermostat to turn the heat down to 65 degrees, and return to 75 degrees at 5pm.

Many programmable thermostats will also anticipate the time it will take to get back to the correct temperature. If it takes around 15 minutes to get to 75 degrees, then it will adjust accordingly.

Read Also: How To Install An HVAC UV Light (5 Step Guide)

How Do Programmable Thermostats Work?

Programming a thermostat usually isn't that difficult, but some thermostats are notoriously more difficult than others. It always helps to have the manual handy.

Individual Day Programming

With most programmable thermostats, you will choose the day of the week, set the beginning temperature, beginning time, end temperature, and end time.

Most thermostats will have idiosyncrasies unique to their design, and studying the manual is important.

You will simply have to go through each day and program the unit.

Some units such as the Orbit includes a Copy And Paste feature so you can quickly paste the settings into all the days that you want.

Weekday & Weekend Programming "5/2"

Other thermostats will just have two programs, one for the week and other for the weekend --- so all you have to mess with is equivalent to two programming days. These thermostats are called 5/2 because the separate out the weekdays from the weekend.

The ease of programming may be a critical factor in actually using the energy saving benefits of a programmable thermostat. It has been reported that about 40% of programmable thermostat owners don't use the actual energy saving features. 

Temperature Swing Adjustment

It's also crucial to keep in mind that a common issue with thermostats that can harm your HVAC is called the temperature swing. The temp swing is the degree difference between when it turns on and off. If this swing is only one degree, then the furnace or A/C may quickly cycle on and off and eventually even harm the system.

Some thermostats allow you to adjust this swing temperature to a few degrees or more.

And with some thermostats, instead of having the temperature swing adjustment, they simply have a customizable time period before the HVAC can turn on such as 5min or 10min --- this will help protect the HVAC in a similar way.

Read Also: Signs of Black Mold in Air Vents? (An Inspector’s Guide)

Is It Worth Getting A Programmable Thermostat?

It is estimated by the EPA that you can save roughly 10% of your HVAC energy usage just by setting your thermostat 10 degrees lower when nobody is home.

Unfortunately, this is a challenging task to do manually. In reality, how many of us will do this every day? It's very easy to forget, and then when you get home, you have to wait for the temperature to get to a comfortable level.

With a programmable thermostat, it takes care of all the adjustments for you --- never forgetting.

In addition to temperature control, a programmable thermostat will help keep a more consistent temperature which will reduce stress on your HVAC system. If you have an older furnace or A/C, buying a programmable thermostat may extend it's life for several more years due to the reduced strain.

For landlords, having a programmable thermostat can also be a handy way to control HVAC energy usage and to prevent tenant squabbling over temperature. According to Mississippi State University, heating and cooling costs can use up to 50% of your home energy usage --- a large cost for investors.

Many programmable thermostats even have display lock features so only the landlord can control it.

Read Also: Top 4 Best Rated AC Coil Cleaners

best programmable thermostat can save energy

How Do I Replace & Install A Programmable Thermostat?

If you want to replace and install the thermostat yourself --- it isn't that difficult with a little DIY skills --- here is a quick summary.

1. Shutoff the power to the HVAC at the breaker box. The wiring is low voltage, but it's still a smart move so you don't cycle the furnace on and off accidentally.

2. Remove the thermostat face of the old unit. You will likely have to remove a screw or two.

3.  Unscrew or remove the thermostat wires. If it's an older thermostat, the wiring is likely held with screws. Unscrew the wiring and tape the thermostat wires to the wall. You don't want to lose these wires inside the wall.

4. Remove the old thermostat mount.

5. Install the new thermostat mount and connect wires. Many newer thermostats don't have screw connectors, and you simply insert the themostat wire in the corresponding connector. The green wire into the G-connector. The red wire into the R-connector etc.

6. Screw in the new thermostat face.

7. Turn power back on at breaker.

Read Also: Top 5 Best HVAC Leak Detectors

What Is The Best Brand of Programmable Thermostats All Under $50?

There are many different brands of programmable thermostats. I have researched the market on Amazon, and since there is such a wide selection with many customer reviews --- Amazon can be a great option to buy a thermostat.

Check out my programmable thermostat reviews below with all of their pros and cons...

My absolute top pick for programmable thermostats under $50 dollars is the Honeywell RTH7600D. This programmable thermostat comes with 4 different day periods and is 7-day customizable.

The large backlit display makes for easy reading even in low light conditions.

This Honeywell thermostat also features Smart Response Learning which means it automatically learns how long it takes to reach a temperature and adjusts accordingly.

  • Easily programmable with a backlit display (under $50 too)
  • Smart Response Learning feature that anticipates the time to reach a set temperature
  • Automatic switching between heating and cooling
  • Risks of battery operated thermostats (may die)
  • Not WIFI compatible

My second choice (a close runner up) for the best programmable thermostat is the Clear Comfort made by Orbit. 

The Clear Comfort will automatically heat & cool your home all 7 days and with four day periods.

This thermostat features an easy Copy And Paste feature so you can quickly transfer one day's settings to any other day.

Another nice thing about the Clear Comfort is that it has 5-minute compressor protection so that the HVAC doesn't quickly cycle on/off (harming your furnace or A/C).

  • Easy programming with backlit display and large numbers
  • Pre-programmed with Energy Star settings (easily change and customize)
  • 5-minute compressor protection so your A/C doesn't cycle on and off
  • Digital temperature sensor may be too sensitive 
  • No adjustable swing setting
  • Display may darken in corner

The LuxPRO is a unique programmable thermostat in that it programs weekdays and weekends in two separate programs --- which is very convenient.

It also features a backlit display with easy controls, and it's also compatible with most HVAC systems.

Unlike some thermostats, the LuxPRO has a fully adjustable swing temperature setting which will help prevent your HVAC cycling on and off.

  • Weekday and weekend programming (keeps them separate)
  • Fully adjustable swing temperature feature
  • Keyboard lockout for selective control over programming
  • Separate programs/settings for heating and cooling
  • Buttons may start sticking

For a great budget-friendly choice, the Hunter 7-Day Thermostat is a great option.

Each day is individually customizable so you can program it to your liking.

Hunter has a clear Home Today button so that you can easily over-ride programming any time you want.

It also features a Indiglo backlit display with large lettering including a protective cover. The cover also has instructions for quick help.

  • 7-Day individual programming for flexibility
  • Home Today button to quickly over-ride programs
  • Energy Star certified
  • May be difficult to program
  • Complaints of battery problems

Another great economical choice for a programmable thermostat is made by Emerson.

This thermostat has separate programming for weekdays and weekends --- making life simpler.

Made for single staged HVAC systems, the Emerson thermostat features a backlit display with easy control buttons.

This thermostat is compatible with a large variety of single staged systems.

  • 5-2 Day Thermostat (separate programming for weekdays and weekends)
  • Backlit display with easy buttons
  • Made for single staged HVAC systems
  • May be difficult to program
  • Limited features
  • May be difficult to install (lack of customer support)

My #1 Top Pick

Honeywell Touchscreen Programmable Thermostat Under $50

My top pick for the best programmable thermostat at a budget price is the Honeywell RTH7600D. It has some great features such as...

1. 7-Day Programming (Four Periods Per Day)

The Honeywell thermostat can be programmed for each individual day with four different periods so you can have maximum control and flexibility.

2. Auto Change Heating & Cooling

With some thermostats, you need to have separate programs for heating and cooling but not this Honeywell thermostat, it will switch between heating and cooling automatically.

3. Smart Response Learning Feature

This feature learns how long it takes to reach a certain temperature, so it will turn on your HVAC anticipating the time it takes to reach your preferred temperature --- and it does it all on autopilot.

Read Also: The Best Low Wattage Space Heaters

Other Home Guides

Looking to learn more about home maintenance? Check out our other informative home product reviews and guides!

Leave a Comment

Arie Van Tuijl

Arie Van Tuijl

Arie is the founder of Home Inspector Secrets, an online resource dedicated to helping owners and buyers understand homes. He is a licensed home inspector in two U.S states and also owns a residential and commercial inspection company.

About Home Inspector Secrets

Home Inspector Secrets is an online resource for owners, buyers, and sellers to understand all aspects of home ownership. We have detailed home guides, product reviews, inspection advice, buying tips, and much more.