Digital Thermostats – How To Use Them

If you are the proud owner of a digital programmable thermostat but are content at keeping a standoffish relationship with it because you just don’t feel like you ‘get’ each other…read this.

Thermostats come in many different shapes and sizes but make no mistake, they all have the same purpose.  That purpose is to do what they’re told when keeping a temperature. Temperature is important to keep you comfortable, especially in your home, so basically…understanding your thermostat should be important to you.

Most digital thermostats come with a few buttons in common:

FAN   /   MODE   /   PROGRAM or SCHEDULE   /   RUN   /   HOLD  /   TIME or CLOCK   

I will describe each of these buttons and their functions in hopes of bridging the gap between homeowner and digital thermostat.

First, an easy one,

A woman enjoying the comfortable temperature indoors.FAN

The FAN button on your thermostat simply controls the blower (fan) in the furnace. There are two possible settings for this on a regular digital thermostat, ON or AUTO.  ‘On’ simply means you will have the blower in your furnace ON all of the time. Depending on your furnace’s abilities or who installed it, the ‘ON’ setting will have a designated blower speed. Sometimes it’s a high speed and for some it will have been set as a lower speed. Our service technicians are trained to raise or lower the speeds on your furnace if your unit has the option to do so.

The reason someone may want to run their blower continuously may vary, however, the most logical reason would be to facilitate a constant temperature within the home. Not running a fan would allow the stratification of air to take place, or in layman’s terms, it would allow all of the hot air to rise and the cool air to drop and so much more potential for uncomfortable living spaces throughout your home.

If you have a single level dwelling, you may also experience certain areas or rooms in your home which are not as comfortable due to an inconsistent temperature. A ‘FAN ON’ choice on your thermostat will help towards more consistent temperatures throughout your home.

Another reason to select your fan to run continuously would be to have the air you breathe in your home filtered by a purification system which may be installed in your ductwork.

If you, or someone in your family, has any respiratory issues, and would benefit from cleaner air, there are many solutions we offer to address that. Spending money on a whole home purification system and only using it when the temperature needs to be addressed would not be doing justice to cleaner air. Running the fan would clean your air constantly ensuring you’re getting your money’s worth from your system. When selecting the ‘FAN ON’ either your heat or air conditioner needs to come on to satisfy a set temperature on your thermostat, the furnace will override the ON speed of the blower and ramp up to the set speed for heat or cool.

For instance, if your FAN ON is normally a low fan speed setting and the A/C needs to come on to cool down your home, a higher, more powerful fan speed will temporarily override the lower speed until it accomplishes the desired set temperature on your thermostat.

Cold window with water dropletsMODE

MODE is a button you would press to switch between HEAT / COOL or OFF.

Heat to heat, cool to cool and off to simply open the windows and enjoy the ‘climate du jour’. Sometimes a thermostat will have an ‘AUTO’ in the MODE options. This simply means you are giving your thermostat the authority to use the heat or the A/C on any given day. Sometimes this may even mean the same day in Winnipeg! More of a commercial setting in my humble opinion, however, some people use it in their homes I’m sure.


This is where most people get intimidated. Not all thermostats are the same with regards to the extent of programming it can do, but once you figure out how to set one timeframe, its simply just repetitive from there on.

Trust me when I say, it is not as laboring as you may have anticipated. PROGRAM setting is simply allowing your thermostat to lower the temperature of your home, at calculated times, in order to save you money. It’s an efficient way to condition your home and less wear and tear on your equipment.

Setting a program needs two things, a time and a temperature. Press PROGRAM or SCHEDULE and follow the blinking prompts. If the Hour or minutes or day is flashing, that’s the one that will change when you press the arrow keys. Use the arrow ‘up’ or ‘down’ to change the desired settings for the time or temperature of your choice.  Press the TIME, PROGRAM or SCHEDULE button to progress to the next desired day or time or temperature you wish to change. Repeat.


The TIME is subject to setting a day as well and is adaptable to your specific schedule. This is desirable when you have a set schedule in your life. If you don’t, then a program such as setback, (a lower temperature setting), during the night when you sleep and then set back to normal right before you would normally wake up on any given day. This would obviously only require two TIME settings in a day where sometimes you may need four different time setpoints for a given day. For example, you can set your thermostat with a schedule that has Monday to Friday as work days and Saturday and Sunday as the weekends. Weekdays you may want your heat up higher when you wake up until you leave for work, and then down until you arrive back home again. The furnace would keep normal temperature until a usual bedtime when it would lower temperature setpoint until morning. On the weekends, you may choose to only use two of those.


The HOLD button will hold a temperature and override the program/schedule. For instance, if you walk up to your thermostat which normally runs in a PROGRAM and turn the heat up above the normal setpoint and press HOLD, then the thermostat will keep that temperature indefinitely, or until you press RUN, which will ‘run’ the program. If you just turn up the temperature and do not press the HOLD button, the temperature will change only temporarily. The temperature will return to the set PROGRAM, at the next time setpoint you have set in that program, automatically.

The TIME button is used to read the time from your thermostat and used to change to time when a desired time setting change is required.

This covers the most common thermostat buttons and functions, however, you may have a different set up that you would like to discuss or ask questions about. Feel free to email us or call. We would love to help out! 204-799-4926 or on the contact us on our website

How’s the WEATHER in YOUR Home?

Steve De Vries is a “Red Seal” refrigeration technician with over 20 years of experience in the HVAC industry. He has been a certified Lennox Premier technician since 2006. Steve is also a Master gas-fitter licensed by the province of Manitoba. Along with his Red Seal Provincial accreditation he also holds an electrical license. Born and raised in Winnipeg Manitoba, Steve has a very good understanding of a diverse climate and the affects it has on our construction. Well versed in duct design, fabrication, ventilation, and air quality, Steve understands all the variables to take into consideration for our region as well as the science to achieve desired comfort, which is so much more than just temperature.