Programmable thermostats can trim about $180 a year from your energy bills by automatically reducing heating and cooling needs when you’re away or asleep. Sounds simple, but not necessarily. While some of the 30 models Consumer Reports tested were easy to set and use, others were so complicated that you might give up in frustration and end up spending more, not less.
That’s pretty much what was happening across the country, which is why you won’t find the Energy Star on any thermostats. The program stopped certifying them in 2009 mostly because they were hard to use. New standards that factor in ease of use are being developed.