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Thermostat Modes You Need to Know

Having a home heating and cooling system is the best way to keep your family comfortable no matter what season it is. Your thermostat will have many different settings and modes that you’ll need to understand.


The first mode that you’ll likely find on your thermostat is on mode. When you turn this mode on, it will turn on the fans inside of your heating and air conditioning system. This will work to circulate the air throughout your home. Your system will continue to run until you manually turn it off whenever it’s set to on mode.

Because your system will be constantly running until you manually turn it off, on mode consumes the most energy out of all of the thermostat settings. You need to be mindful of when you have your thermostat set to on mode to keep your energy bills from being sky-high.


Off mode is fairly straightforward. Whenever you switch your thermostat to off mode, the entire system will shut off. Your system will not turn back on until you manually put it on a different setting. Most of the time, you should not have your thermostat set to off mode. Rather, this is typically reserved for times when you’re repairing or performing maintenance on your system and you do not want any of the components to turn on.

Desired Temperature

Your thermostat will allow you to program in a desired temperature that you want the inside of your house to be. There will be a couple of different temperature readings on your thermostat. Apart from the desired temperature setting that you’re able to alter, you’ll also see what the actual room temperature is. Some of the newer thermostats will even display what the outdoor temperature is.

Heat and Cool Modes

Your thermostat has two basic settings that you can utilize when you’re looking to alter the temperature inside of your home. The heat setting will turn on your furnace to warm up your home. The cool setting will turn on your air conditioning system to cool down your home. If you turn either of these settings on, your system will consistently run until you manually shut it off.

Auto Mode

Most of the time, your thermostat will be set on either auto mode or run mode depending on the specific type of thermostat that you have. If you do not have a programmable thermostat, it’s likely that you’ll be running your thermostat on auto mode most of the time because run mode is not available.

When your system is in auto mode, your thermostat is constantly monitoring the indoor temperature and comparing it to your desired set temperature. With most newer thermostat systems, you will have to program in two different temperature settings when you switch to auto mode. One will be your desired air conditioning temperature, and the other will be your desired furnace temperature.

When the actual temperature in your home is warmer than the desired temperature you have set, your thermostat will turn on your air conditioning system. Once the indoor temperature returns to your desired temperature, your thermostat will turn your air conditioning system off. The same process works for your furnace when the actual temperature drops below the desired temperature.

Auto mode is ideal for being as energy efficient as possible with your thermostat. It limits runtime to when it’s actually needed to make your home comfortable.

Run Mode

If you have a fairly new thermostat, you’ll have the option of run mode. This gives you the ability to set different desired temperatures depending on the day of the week and the time of the day. This setting allows your system to become even more energy efficient as you can minimize system run times when your family is not at home.

Whenever you have run mode on, it will compare the actual indoor air temperature with the desired temperature set for that day and time of the week. Just like auto mode, run mode will turn on your air conditioning system whenever the indoor air temperature goes above what your desired set temperature is. It also works in the reverse fashion for your heat setting.

Hold Mode

If you’ve gone through the trouble of programming your thermostat for every hour of the week, you’ve likely don’t want to change it often. However, there are always unforeseen events that can change your schedule. When this happens, you can be thankful for hold mode.

Instead of having to go back into your thermostat settings to change the programmed setting for a specific point in time, you can simply hit the hold mode. This will override your programmed settings with whatever temperature you decide to set. This is perfect for being able to turn your air conditioner on if you come home early one day from work.

Relative Humidity

If you have a new air conditioning system that comes with an advanced dehumidifier, you’ll also see a relative humidity setting on your thermostat. This setting is presented in a percentage format. Just like the temperature has at least two different readings, so does the relative humidity.

One reading will be the actual relative humidity inside of your home. The second reading will be what your desired relative humidity level is. Whenever you have a desired relative humidity level set, your thermostat will work in an auto mode fashion. This is a desirable setting to have as you can keep your home comfortable for family members who have respiratory illnesses that tend to become worse with high humidity levels.

Energy Efficient Settings

Run mode is one of the most energy-efficient settings you can have on your thermostat. Because you can set different temperatures for different times of the day, you can easily limit system runtime when you’re not at home.

Most experts recommend setting your air conditioner to 78 degrees when your family is at home and 88 degrees when they’re not. By increasing the temperature by 10 degrees at times when you’re not at home, you can drastically limit the amount of time that your system will run. The less your system runs, the lower your energy bills are going to be.

Eco Mode

Many smart thermostats come with a new eco mode. When you flip over to this setting, your thermostat will run an energy-efficient schedule. The schedule is automatically created by the software pre-programmed into your thermostat that takes into account your past thermostat history.

Dependable AC Service Experts

Rite Way Heating, Cooling & Plumbing is your dependable air conditioner service expert for the Tucson area. We provide excellent cooling, heating, plumbing, air quality, energy audit, and ducting services. We even offer no-contact service calls to provide you with extra peace of mind. We were awarded the 2020 Arizona Daily Star Reader’s Choice Award, and our customer testimonials speak for themselves. Give us a call to schedule your next appointment with one of our dependable AC experts.