You’ve just bought your first digital programmable thermostat and programmed the thermostat according to your family’s schedules. Everything is now set to ensure comfortable temperatures for everyone when at home. But now you wonder what you do if you or anyone in your family need to break the pattern for a day or two.  Do you have to do the programming over again? Not really if you have a ‘Hold’ button on your thermostat.

The hold button on a programmable thermostat is for putting the thermostat in “hold” mode to make temporary changes to the programmed schedules. It is as easy as pressing a button. When you want to change back to the scheduled program, you just press another button to activate the “Run” mode again.  

In this article, we’ll briefly have a look at the main difference between a “traditional” and a digital programmable thermostat to clearly understand the “hold” and “run” mode concepts. Then I’ll explain how and when to use the “hold” and “run” buttons. 

The main difference between a programmable and “traditional” thermostat

Before I explain when to use the “hold” and “run” buttons on your programmable thermostat, we’ll just briefly have to look at the main difference between a “traditional” thermostat and a programmable thermostat. 

With a traditional thermostat, you have to go to the thermostat to manually make changes in temperature levels in your home. You have to do it every time you want to make a change in the settings. 

However, if your HVAC system uses a programmable thermostat, you can preset time and temperature schedules which the thermostat will then execute automatically. 

In other words, with a traditional thermostat, you have to be with the thermostat to manually change the temperature every time you want to change it. And the thermostat will keep the temperature in the house on that level until you change it manually again. With a programmable thermostat, you preset times and temperatures for automatic execution by the thermostat. 

The basic concept of “hold” and “run” modes

If you understand the difference between a traditional and programmable thermostat, as I’ve explained above, it is easy to understand the “hold” and “run” mode concepts. I’ll explain briefly and then discuss it in more detail. 

”Hold” mode

When you put your programmable thermostat in “hold” mode, you actually transform your thermostat into a traditional thermostat.  The temperature level you set manually will be held by the thermostat until you manually change it again or change the thermostat back to a programmable thermostat. This is done by using the hold button you can see on the thermostat. The location of this ‘hold’ button is different for different thermostats. For example, the hold button on a Honeywell Home RTH221B thermostat is on the left-hand side, while for a Honeywell RTH6580WF, it is on the right-hand side.

hold button on thermostat

”Run” mode

“Run” mode is the “normal” mode for a programmable thermostat. The thermostat has to be in “Run” mode to accept and execute preset schedules. 

This means that different temperatures can be set for different times of the day and different days of the week. The thermostat will then change your home’s temperature automatically according to the schedule settings.

The “problem” with preset schedules

When you’ve programmed the thermostat with preset schedules, it works well if there are no changes in your family’s daily schedules. But in real life, schedules sometimes change temporarily. Family members can get sick, you might go on holiday, and on public holidays your schedule is different. 

The “problem” is twofold. Firstly, how do you override or stop the schedule? And secondly, do you have to program the thermostat again if you want to resume the previously set schedule?

The solution – “Hold Mode” and “Run Mode”

The thermostat developers have solved this problem by including a “hold“ mode and a “run” mode in programmable thermostats. These two modes solve the problem. 

”Hold” mode

If, for instance, you want another temperature than what has been preset for a day, you just press the “hold” button on the thermostat. This put your thermostat immediately into “hold” mode.

The thermostat then allows you to use whatever temperature you want to. The thermostat’s schedule is overridden and will stay inactive until you leave the “hold” mode” again. By using “hold” mode you don’t change any preset schedules – you put them just “on hold.”

”Run” mode

The “run” mode allows you to return back to the originally preset schedule. You just press the “run” button and your thermostat immediately goes back to the set temperature and time schedules.  

Some instances when it is handy to use the “hold” and “run” modes

On public holidays

Usually, public holidays are days when normal home schedules are disrupted. Often the family members are at home on public holidays. When you are at home all day, you need a comfortable temperature in your home the whole day and not only at preset scheduled times.  

This is the ideal time to put your thermostat in “hold” mode and set the required temperature. The next day you can just press the “run” button, and your thermostat will resume immediately with the preset schedules. 

When you are on vacation

If the whole family is on vacation and away from home, and you want the house to always have a relatively “neutral” temperature, the “hold” mode is a good option. You can then set the temperature so that the house never gets too warm or too cold. 

When you are back from vacation, you activate the “run” mode, and the thermostat will immediately return to the preset schedules. 

When a family member is sick and stays at home. 

When a sick family member stays at home, it is also good to put the thermostat in “hold” mode until the person is resuming his or her normal routine again.  Then you just press the “Run” button and the preset schedules kick in again.

When you entertain people at home

With extra people in your home, the house can become warmer than usual. It is a good idea to put the thermostat in “hold” mode for the time and enter a temperature that will be suitable. 

Honeywell thermostat’s permanent hold

Some Honeywell thermostats offer a feature enabling you to put the thermostat in a temporary or permanent “hold.” On these thermostats, you can increase or decrease the temperature while it’s running on its normal schedule. When you’ve done the temperature change a “hold until” message will appear. 

You can then enter the time and date until when the temporary hold has to be in place. To set a permanent hold, you have to click on the “hold until” message and choose “Permanent Hold”. 

You can cancel this permanent hold at any time by clicking on the “run” button.


By using the “hold” and “run” buttons you can ensure that your home’s temperature is always what you want it to be. Most of the time, your thermostat will be in “run” mode and regulate the temperature according to your preset schedules. But it is easy to override the settings and treat your thermostat as a traditional thermostat by pressing the “hold” button. 


Comments are closed.