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Programmable thermostats are little computers just for adjusting your thermostat. Few of them are intuitive. We struggle through setting up once, then hope we never have to do that again for a while. They are really helpful for a few simple patterns: Get up, go to work, come home, go to bed, repeat. But since we don’t live that way all the time, they must be adjusted from time to time, like when you go on vacation or have a sick day, or the time changes. So getting familar with it is important to keeping your heating and cooling bills lower. Don’t think of them as automated thermostats, but rather thermostat helpers. You still have to do your part too.

Once you earn the Smarty Pants Badge, we’ll remind you when you need to take a look and make sure everything is set correctly. For example, your thermostat needs to be set to the right time and day of the week. Each day or all week days need setting to the time you get up, go to work, return from work and go to bed. The same goes for weekends. For each of these settings, you also need to set the temperature where you want it.

Energy Star has the best video we’ve seen on setting one of these up. Take a look and learn how to use it; it will help you save money and make the planet happier too.