Field Evaluation of Programmable Thermostats

Charles Booten, Chuck Booten (NREL Technical Monitor)

Research output: NRELSubcontract Report


Prior research suggests that poor programmable thermostats usability may prevent their effective use to save energy. We hypothesized that home occupants with a high-usability thermostats would be more likely to use them to save energy than people with a basic thermostat. We randomly installed a high-usability thermostat in half the 77 apartments of an affordable housing complex, installing abasic thermostat in the other half. During the heating season, we collected space temperature and furnace on-off data to evaluate occupant interaction with the thermostats, foremost nighttime setbacks. We found that thermostat usability did not influence energy-saving behaviors, finding no significant difference in temperature maintained among apartments with high- and low-usability thermostats.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages59
StatePublished - 2012

Bibliographical note

Work performed by Fraunhofer Center for Sustainable Energy Systems, Cambridge, Massachusetts

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/SR-5500-56637

Other Report Number

  • DOE/GO-102012-3804


  • Building America
  • controls
  • cooling
  • energy management
  • Fraunhofer
  • heating
  • human factors
  • HVAC
  • residential
  • residential buildings
  • thermostat


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