At EasyTechJunkie, we're committed to delivering accurate, trustworthy information. Our expert-authored content is rigorously fact-checked and sourced from credible authorities. Discover how we uphold the highest standards in providing you with reliable knowledge.

Learn more...

What is a Digital Thermostat?

R. Kayne
R. Kayne

A digital thermostat can control the heater and air conditioning (AC) unit in a building, replacing standard analog heater thermostats present in older homes. Among the advantages of switching out the old unit for a new digital model are convenience and savings in the form of a lower energy bill.

Standard thermostats are commonly mounted on a wall in a convenient location where they monitor the room’s air temperature. They are set by adjusting a pointer over a specific temperature along a dial. The thermostat will only trigger the heater on if the temperature in the room falls below the setting. Once the heater comes on, it will stay on until the room warms back up to the setting. At that point, the thermostat turns the heater off.

A digital thermostat.
A digital thermostat.

The problem is that analog thermostats are typically set to a comfortable temperature and left there. As a result much energy is wasted heating the home during the day when no one is there, or at night when everyone is asleep. A digital thermostat is programmable, allowing you to choose which hours you require heating (or air-conditioning), thereby saving energy and money.

There are several brands and models available, with the most basic unit allowing one user-configurable program to run Monday through Friday, and another on weekends. A user might choose to have the heater kick on at 6am during the week, turn off at 9am while the house is empty, turn back on at 3pm just before the kids get home, then shut off again at 11pm for bed. For weekends, the thermostat can be set to a different routine.

This model can be sufficient for people who keep a uniform schedule during the week and on weekends. More advanced models allow each day of the week to be programmed individually for added flexibility, including Saturday and Sunday.

Once the digital thermostat is programmed, you never have to think about it again. It will heat or cool the house according to your schedule without the hassle of manually turning it on and off. It’s also easy to temporarily override a program without having to reprogram it. Simply tap the “up” or “down” keys on the face of the unit to temporarily adjust the temperature setting up or down. Some units will hold this temporary setting for a period of time before resorting back to the program, while others have a reset key you can tap to return to standard programming.

It’s quite easy to replace an analog thermostat with a new digital model. The old unit is typically held to its mount by one or two screws. Before uninstalling it, switch off power to the unit at the main circuit breaker panel. After removing the screws, wiring coming through the wall to the unit will need to be disconnected and reconnected to the new digital thermostat. The number of wires will vary depending on attached equipment. Be sure to follow all instructions carefully, connecting the correct leads to the correct posts, including the ground wire.

Virtually all digital thermostats come with the ability to control a heater and AC unit both, but if you don't have AC it isn't a problem. Units with fewer programming options cost less, but an advanced model might run $50 US Dollars. An advantage to paying a little more for a digital thermostat is that these models are usually easy to program while the least expensive units might not be as user friendly.

Digital thermostats are available at home improvement stores, take moments to install, and can save energy and money. This is one home improvement that will pay for itself over and over again.

Discussion Comments


Shouldn't my digital thermostat set on 68 not kick on until the temp. drops to 66?

Post your comments
Forgot password?
    • A digital thermostat.
      By: Bill Bradford
      A digital thermostat.