Thermostats: What’s the Difference?

Home Heating and Cooling

“Don’t touch that thermostat!” You probably heard this all the time growing up. Good news: Now you don’t have to!

Thanks to a host of cool new features, thermostats can now help you stay comfy all year long without constantly having to adjust the settings. But don’t be fooled; not all thermostats are created equal.

Types of Thermostats

What’s the difference between manual, programmable, connected and smart thermostats? Let’s find out!


This is the thermostat you were told not to touch — and with good reason. Manual/analog thermostats are not precise when it comes to temperature accuracy. You constantly have to adjust them up or down to stay comfortable, which costs you a bundle in energy and money.


A programmable thermostat lets you set your temperature preferences, so you no longer have to manually adjust your settings all the time. That’s definitely a pro.

The con is they only work the way you program them to. So think of them like a printed map: They won’t adjust to changing circumstances. If you want to change settings, you need to reprogram your thermostat.


These thermostats are connected to the Internet, so think of them like a GPS navigation system. You’ll get real-time info, so you can adjust your settings remotely.

That’s awesome, but there is a catch: You still have to the make all the decisions yourself.


Smart thermostats earn their name. But how smart are they? Not only are they connected to the Internet via Wi-Fi — giving you real-time info 24/7, no matter where you are — but they can also make decisions for you!

Yep, you don’t have to constantly adjust your settings. Nice, right?

But those are just the basics. You can also get info on outside temp, indoor conditions, occupancy, even when to change your air filters, so you can maximize your savings anytime and anywhere.

Ready to make the switch and save all year long? Sign up for PSO’s Power Hours program and get a $50 e-gift card when you enroll!