Buying Guide

Best Thermostats for Your Home


Residential thermostats can range from basic manual units to advanced programmable units. Many homeowners wonder “what is the best thermostat?” This guide will help you understand the different types of thermostats available. Read on for help selecting the best thermostats for home use, and the special features that increase convenience, comfort and energy efficiency. Thermostat types include manual house thermostats, programmable thermostats and smart thermostats. All three work with air conditioning and a variety of gas, oil and electric furnaces.


Manual Thermostats

A person pressing a button on a manual thermostat.

If you aren’t looking for anything fancy, manual non-programmable thermostats are a great option. These are most commonly used in older homes. They feature buttons on the front that make it easy to adjust temperature settings. Manual thermostats can be analog or digital. Digital versions feature large screens for easy temperature readings.

  • They are typically found in older homes.
  • They are more affordable with simple controls.
  • They offer limited energy savings and comfort, but can work efficiently if you’re diligent about adjusting settings as the temperature changes.

Programmable Thermostats

A programmable thermostat on a wall in a home.

Align your home’s temperature and your schedule with programmable thermostats. Setting a specific temperature for your work and home hours can reduce your energy bill.

  • These digital thermostats adjust the temperature automatically throughout the day.
  • The best programmable thermostats can save you as much as 33 percent on heating costs, and up to 15 percent to 25 percent on cooling.
  • Advanced models switch back and forth between heating and air conditioning during seasonal transitions.
  • The best programmable thermostat for general use should be easy to operate. Most newer models are mercury-free with a digital interface.
  • They can be set to 7-day (daily individual programs), 5-2-day (workweek vs. weekend programs), 5-1-1 (work week plus two different programs for Saturday and Sunday) and 1-week (same week-long program) options.

Tip: You can override the program’s schedule as needed with many programmable thermostats.

Smart/WiFi Thermostats

A smartphone showing the interface of an app that controls a smart thermostat.

Of all the different types of thermostats, smart thermostats are quickly becoming the most common choices. These Wi-Fi thermostats can be controlled from anywhere with a mobile device. Learning smart thermostats adapt to your schedule. They adjust your home temperature setting accordingly. This also helps lower your monthly energy costs.

The best smart thermostat for homes will vary according to your unique needs. Sticking with the same brand for all your smart devices will help the whole home operate in a unified way. There are many reasons to choose this kind of thermostat.

  • Improve energy efficiency. Having ultimate control over your HVAC system allows you to adjust the temperatures according to your schedule, lowering energy costs.
  • Track your energy usage. The app for these Wi-Fi-enabled thermostats let you track energy usage. This makes it easier to tell where you can cut back to maximize efficiency.
  • Control the temperature from your computer, tablet or smartphone. Use a mobile device to adjust the temperature remotely.
  • Control the HVAC system in rental properties. If you have a vacation home or rental space, a smart thermostat is an ideal choice. Adjust the temperature when the space is vacant and track guests’ usage.
  • Designed for ease of installation. Best of all, these technologically advanced thermostats are fast and easy to install. Most of them are compatible with contemporary HVAC systems.
  • Integrate with other smart home features. Once you’ve chosen the best smart thermostat for your needs, see if it’s compatible with other smart systems in your home. This way you can monitor multiple aspects of your home remotely. Smart lighting fixtures, doorbells, security systems and appliances will maximize home efficiency.

Tip: Daylight savings time ready thermostats adjust your temperature settings when the time changes.

Different Types Of Thermostats

A side by side image of an analog thermostat and a digital thermostat.

You can discover what type of thermostat you have by carefully removing the cover and having a look at the wiring. You’ll see multicolored wires and various letter and number combinations.

  • A Stage 1 thermostat will only have one wire for heating (in the W or WI connector) and one wire for cooling (in the Y or Y1 connector).
  • A Stage 2 thermostat has multiple heating wires or cooling wires. The heating wires are typically inserted into terminals labeled with a “W,” and the cooling wires are typically inserted into terminals labeled “Y.” One conductor goes to Y1 and the other to Y2.
  • Direct Line Voltage thermostats will typically have two thick wires, like those connected to a wall outlet. Another possible way to identify line voltage is through a “caution high voltage” warning.
  • A 24mV (millivolt) thermostat is recognized from its two wires and has very low voltage. Unlike traditional low voltage systems, they are not connected to the household wiring system.
  • An HVAC zoning system is a heating and cooling system that redirects air to specific areas within a home. You can recognize a zoned system because there will be multiple thermostats placed in different areas of the home. The only exception is high end zoning systems where there is only one thermostat connected by temperature sensors in other zones.

Consider your needs and your budget when shopping for the best thermostats for your home. Review our selection of thermostats and thermostat parts in The Home Depot Mobile App. Get everything you need to keep your HVAC system operating at its best.

Consider your needs and your budget when shopping for the best thermostats for your home. Review our selection of thermostats and thermostat parts in The Home Depot Mobile App. Get everything you need to keep your HVAC system operating at its best.