One element of your home's heating and cooling system that oftentimes is overlooked is the thermostat. If the temperatures fluctuate, or the heating and cooling system doesn't seem to be working as it used to, the thermostat is one place to start. You have some decisions to make. Do you want a manual, smart or programmable thermostat? Not sure? Keep reading to learn about these three options.

Manual Thermostats

Manual thermostats are the cheapest option, but they are the least efficient. Other than price, the good thing about manual thermostats is that they typically outlast the more sophisticated digital models being marketed today.

The downside of manual thermostats is that they can't be programmed to change the temperature, they aren't as accurate and will cost you more in energy each year. If you don't take the time to clean the thermostat every month or so, it will become coated in dust and it will not get accurate reads on the temperature in your home. This will result in the furnace running when it shouldn't and not kicking on when it needs to.

Programmable Thermostats

Programmable thermostats are a great addition to your home heating and cooling system. You know your daily routine, so you know when the home needs to be a little warmer than other times. For example, you know that you go to bed around 10 each night, you can set the thermostat to drop the temperature in your home a few degrees – you'll be under the covers and won't notice a difference. Then, you know that the alarm is set to go off at 6, so you can set the thermostat to increase the temperature so that you can be nice and warm when you get out of bed.

Smart Thermostats

The most sophisticated, high-tech thermostat you can get for your home. This gadget is connected to your Wi-Fi and can be accessed from anywhere in the home, or even when you are away.

Smart thermostats also provide you with all sorts of information that can help you reduce your energy costs, remember to change your furnace filter and show you exactly how often your furnace is running. All of this information can be used to improve the efficiency of the home heating system.

Talk with your HVAC and plumber service to learn more about the thermostat options for your home. He or she will assist you with finding the thermostat that will meet your needs, help to manage your energy usage and that you will be able to figure out how to work. After all, there's no point in going high-tech if you don't know how to use all of the features.