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Don't panic if a “Return” message appears on your Honeywell Thermostat. This is completely normal and crucial for the correct functioning of the apparatus. It serves as an integral part of the device's primary attributes.

The “Return” message blinks when it’s working in advance to reach set temperatures assigned to the “Return” or “Home” period in your schedule.

You can let it be, or adjust your schedule to remove it. Simply follow the guide I’ve created below.

image 84

What Does the Flashing “Return” Mean?

According to the default schedule in Honeywell Thermostats, there’s a “Leave/Away” period which acts as a “low-power” mode when nobody is at home.

To save power, the temperature setpoint at this period is not comfortable for users. So just before the next period, which is “Return” or “Home,” the thermostat powers the HVAC system so it reaches a comfortable temperature.  

During this short period, the “Return” message on your thermostat might start blinking. Essentially, it’s not an error message but an alert that indicates that the system is working in advance.

This helps set up a comfortable temperature for when you return. 

Pre-Programmed Schedules

The flashing “Return” message will only show up when your thermostat is following a pre-programmed schedule. 

For the majority of the smart and programmable models, these schedules include four distinct periods: Wake, Leave, Return, and Sleep.

Besides that, Honeywell thermostats have a default schedule designed to cater to most homeowners’ daily schedules and temperature preferences.

This default schedule is shown below:

image 77
Table of the default schedule on a Honeywell 8000 series thermostat

As you can see in the graphic above, the Return/Home period is set to 6.00 P.M. the time when most homeowners return after work. Also, the “Away” temperatures are decreased/increased to minimize power consumption by your AC or Heat Pump/furnace.  

Customizing Your Schedule

However, this pre-set schedule doesn’t always have to be the norm. You can personalize each of these periods as you see fit. 

For instance, you could set your preferred Wake temperature and time earlier or later, depending on when you naturally rise in the morning.

Similarly, you might adjust the Leave, Return, and Sleep settings based on your daily routines.

Programmable Schedule Modes

As I mentioned previously, not all models have this feature. Different models, especially the non-smart programmable ones, have certain limitations depending on the programmable days of the week.

There are four such schedule modes, these are:

  • 1-Week Programming: Set a consistent temperature schedule that’s common for every day of the week, ideal for users who work at home or tend to follow the same schedule every day.
  • 5 + 2 Programming: Customize separate schedules for weekdays and weekends, perfect for those who want different settings when they’re at home during the weekend.
  • 5 + 1 + 1 Programming: Additional personalization by having individualized settings for weekdays, Saturdays, and Sundays. Ideal for users with variable weekend schedules.
  • 7-Day Programming: Gain complete control over your thermostat by setting unique temperature schedules for each day of the week, ideal for users with constantly changing routines.

How to Program the Return Schedule on a Honeywell Thermostat

So, if you’re worried about the default schedule, or prefer to switch things up, this guide will show you how. 

Below, I’ve covered the most popular models with detailed instructions. As such, you’re sure to find a scheduled programming guide that falls in line with your model below.

Via the Honeywell Home App

  • Schedule Mode: Options between 1-Week, 5+2, and 7-day programming. Relabeled as “Grouped Days,” “Schedule” and “Single Days.” 

Before we head into the models, let me walk you through how to set up time-based schedules via the Honeywell Home app. 

  1. First, make sure you have the app downloaded and paired with your Honeywell Smart thermostat.
  2. After that’s all square, open the app and pick your thermostat.
  3. Then, from the thermostat home screen (on the app) tap on the calendar icon at the bottom right (labeled Schedule)
  4. From there, you can choose whether to create schedules for grouped days, single days, or a combination of weekdays and weekends.
  5. To edit a particular time period (Wake, Away, Home, or Sleep), follow the appropriate path for your chosen schedule type.
  6. Then modify settings such as “Time,” “Priority,” “Temperature,” and “Fan” to suit your preferences.

“Time” allows you to set the beginning and end times of each period, while “Priority” lets you select which sensors to activate during that time.

Adjust “Temperature” to control heat and cool setpoints, and “Fan” to assign the fan/blower function (on, auto, or circulate) for that period.

On top of that, you can set up geofencing, sensor-based, or smart features in your scheduling process.

These are handy and efficient but can be sometimes overwhelming and you always need to set them up via the Honeywell app.

T10 Pro and T9

Smart thermostat with a color touchscreen

T10 Pro 2
  • Schedule Mode: Options between 1-Week, 5+2, and 7-day programming. Relabeled as “Grouped Days,” “Schedule” and “Single Days.” 

To access the scheduling options:

  1. Tap the menu icon at the bottom of the home screen display and then select “Schedule.”
  2. From there, you can choose whether to create schedules similar to the mobile app.
  3. Then modify other settings and return to the home screen.
T10 Pro Schedule 1
Programming the schedule on a Honeywell T10 Pro

T6 Pro Smart, T6 Pro Z-Wave

Smart thermostats with touchscreen

Honeywell T5 and T6 Pros 1 2
  • Schedule Mode:  Options between 1-Week, 5+2, and 7-Day. Relabeled as “Every day,” “Weekday & Weekend” and “Individual Days.”

To set up a time-based schedule:

  1. First, touch Menu on the home screen and navigate to SCHEDULE by using the left or right arrows, then touch Select.
  2. Choose the desired days and periods by using the arrows and the Select button.
  3. Once a period is selected, adjust the start time and temperature settings according to your preference for both heating and cooling modes.
  4. After adjusting the settings for each period, use the right arrow to find DONE, then press Select to save your changes and return to the home screen.

T6 Pro and T4 Pro

Programmable thermostat

T4 Pro 1 2
  • Schedule Mode: 5+2 on most models 

For the T6 Pro and T4 Pro Models (or a similar style model with the circular buttons at the bottom of the panel), the process is shown below:

  1. Start by pressing “Menu” on your thermostat.
  2. When “PROG” appears, press Select, followed by “ON.”
  3. Then, press “Select” again to choose which day or set of days you'd like to edit.
  4. Next, scroll through and select the appropriate schedule period (Wake, Away, Home, or Sleep) using the + or – keys.
  5. Press Select to keep the schedule period active, or toggle it OFF if desired.
  6. Adjust the start time and temperatures for both “Heat” and “Cool” modes accordingly, pressing Select after each adjustment.
  7. To finalize your changes and return to the home screen, press Home.

Should you need to further edit, enable, or disable your schedule, simply revisit the Menu and follow the provided steps.


Programmable thermostats

  • Schedule Mode: All modes labeled as “MO-SU,” “MO-FR, SA, SU,” “MO-FR, SA-SU,” and “Each Day.”

The Honeywell T5+ thermostat offers greater flexibility for schedules. However, programming them in can be tedious.

Here’s how to set it up:

  1. First, touch Menu on the home screen, then navigate left or right until you find SCHEDULE and touch Select.
  2. Once there, touch the arrows to choose a period on a specific day or a set of days and press Select on the desired period.
  3. After that, you have to adjust the periods. Select the period, touch the time area, and adjust the period's start time using the “+” or “-” buttons; confirm by touching Select.
  4. Then, touch the temperature area and use the “+” or “-” buttons to set your preferred temperature for the current heating or cooling mode, and confirm your selection with the Select button.
  5. After that, adjust and confirm the preferred temperature for the opposite mode.
  6. Continue to edit the subsequent periods or simply touch the right arrow until DONE appears on the screen.
  7. Once done, press Select to save your changes and return to the home screen.

9000/8000 VisionPRO Series

Programmable thermostats with touchscreen

90008000 series all 1
  • Schedule Mode: 7-Day Programming for a customizable set of days.

The Honeywell 9000 series, with its touchscreen and colored display, makes it very easy to adjust the schedule for a specific set of days. Besides, it includes a guided mode that creates a schedule based on a quiz. 

To begin this process: 

  1. Touch MENU and then select Create/Edit Schedule.
  2. From here, three options are available: View/Edit, for quick adjustments; Guide Me, for guidance in creating a schedule by answering simple questions; and I'll do it myself, to manually create a schedule.
  3. If you prefer a hands-on approach, selecting the “I'll do it myself” option grants total control over the scheduling process.
  4. When using this mode, choose the days to schedule and touch Next.
  5. Then, set the Wake time for the selected days by touching Wake.
  6. Adjust the heat and cool temperatures for the Wake period using the up and down arrows and touch Done to save.
  7. Repeat this process for each desired time period (Leave, Return, Sleep) to effectively tailor the thermostat's schedule.
9000 series schedule change
Programming the schedule on a Honeywell 9000 series thermostat

FocusPRO 6000 Series

Programmable thermostat

FocusPRO 6000 Series 1 2
  • Schedule Mode: 5+2

To program the FocusPRO 6000 series thermostat:

  1. First press the SET CLOCK/DAY/SCHEDULE button
  2. Follow it by the SET SCHEDULE button.
  3. This will allow you to set your weekday Wake time (Monday through Friday).
  4. Use the up or down arrow buttons to adjust the temperature and time for this period. Then press NEXT to proceed.
  5. Repeat this process for each weekday time period (Leave, Return, and Sleep) to ensure a comfortable environment throughout the day.
  6. Once you have completed programming the weekday schedule, press NEXT to set the weekend time periods (Saturday and Sunday).
  7. Like the weekday programming, follow the same process for setting time and temperature for each weekend.
  8. After all the periods have been set, press DONE to save your settings and exit the programming mode.

Remember to make sure your thermostat is set to the correct system (Heat or Cool) before programming to ensure optimal performance.

RTH6500WFT Smart Series

Programmable thermostat

FocusPRO 6000 Series 1 3
  • Schedule Mode: 7-Day

What’s great about the RTH6500WF is that it allows complete 7-Day programming. However, setting these schedules using the display can be tedious. 

To adjust the program schedules:

  1. Start by pressing the “Set Clock/Day/Schedule” button, followed by the “Set Schedule” button.
  2. You'll first set your desired wake-up time and temperature for Monday.
  3. Then, use the Up or Down arrow buttons to change the time, and then press “Next” to move on to selecting the temperature.
  4. After setting the temperature, hit ‘Next' again to configure the “Leave” time period.
  5. Repeat this process for all time periods and days of the week.

Just remember to make sure the thermostat is set to the correct mode (Heat or Cool) before making any changes.

PRO 4000 and RTH 2300 Series

Programmable thermostats

40002000 models 1
  • Schedule Mode: 5+2

For these models:

  1. Press the SET button until “Set Schedule” appears on the screen.
  2. Set your desired weekday (MO-FR) wake time by using the up and down arrows, and press SET to confirm.
  3. Follow this by setting the corresponding temperature, and pressing SET once more.
  4. Repeat this process for each weekday time period, such as leaving the house or returning home.
  5. Lastly, pressing SET allows you to establish weekend (SA-SU) time periods for a more relaxed home environment.
  6. Once you've set the weekend schedule, press RUN to save and exit the programming mode.

Keep in mind that it's essential to have the thermostat set to the correct system (Heat or Cool) before you start making adjustments.

RTH221 Series

Programmable Thermostat

  • Schedule Mode: 1-Week

The RTH221 Series and older models usually include 1-Week programming. As such, you can only set up a single schedule for every day. There’s no distinction between weekends and weekdays.

  1. To begin programming, press the “SET” button until “Set Schedule” appears on the display.
  2. You can now set your “Wake” time (for Monday to Sunday) by pressing the up or down arrows to select the desired hour and minute.
  3. After setting the time, press “SET” once more and use the arrow keys to determine the corresponding temperature for this period.
  4. Next, follow the same steps (2 and 3) for each subsequent time period, such as “Leave,” which denotes the time when you're away from home and may prefer a different temperature.
  5. After completing these adjustments for all time periods, press the “RUN” button to save your schedule and exit the settings mode.

Also, don’t forget to set it to the correct system (Heat or Cool) before making any adjustments, as the programming will not be accurate if the wrong mode is selected.

Wrapping Up

The return mode starts flashing whenever the thermostat is prepared in advance for the “Return” or “Home” schedule periods. Honeywell Thermostats have a default schedule but you can also customize them.

That said, the amount of flexibility offered in programming the schedule may vary so make sure to read up on the guide above and customize via the app, if possible.

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