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To appreciate why your Honeywell thermostat is flashing return you need to understand the temperature programming schedule. In these models, there are four elements of the temperature schedule … wake, leave, return and sleep. 

If “return” is flashing, it means that part of the schedule is operating. Similarly, if “wake” is flashing, it means the wake schedule is operating! 

Here’s a quick example

To save energy and money, the idea is to set the temperature of your home to a comfortable level for the wake period, in the morning. Then you reduce that temperature to save money during the leave period, as you go to work or school. Then you bring the temperature back up to a comfortable level when you return home. Finally, you reduce again for the sleep period.

What does “Return” mean?

Return is the time the thermostat turns on the heating/cooling equipment after the energy-saving “leave” period. Return is normally set through the HVAC’s thermostat. The return programming offers you an excellent way to save energy consumption. It ensures the heating/cooling system is not running non-stop when you are not around but is back up to a comfortable level when you return home. 

When deciding what time to set for your Return period, it is always important to build in extra lead time. The amount of time depends on the outside temperature and your equipment’s typical response time. This gives your HVAC system a head start to heat or cool the home before you return.

Pre-programmed Time and Temperature Settings

Honeywell thermostats are designed with sophisticated features and functions, thus, it may be difficult to program for some. Therefore, issues such as your Honeywell thermostat flashing return may not be easy to grasp. Well, let’s make it easier for you.  

As previously stated, Honeywell programmable thermostats come with four essential period of programming.  The Wake period is designed for when people wake up – 6 AM by default. The Leave period is for when people leave the house for school or work and during the duration to which they are not at home.

The Return period is when they come back home (e.g. 6 PM) whilst the Sleep period is for when they go to bed – 10 PM by default.  A Honeywell thermostat will clearly show the status of each period throughout the day whilst also allowing you to program it or alter the temperature settings.

Programming Modes 

Generally, for Honeywell Thermostats, you will have a choice of four programming options.

  • 1-week programming – same settings for the entire week
  • 5 + 2 programming – settings for weekdays and different ones for weekends
  • 5 + 1 +1 programming – settings for the weekdays, Saturday, and Sunday
  • 7 programming – which allows you to set parameters for each day.

How to program the return schedule on a Honeywell Thermostat

It is nearly impossible to describe the programming process for all Honeywell thermostats – as they are countless different models. However, the principle is pretty much the same. After all, each programmable thermostat model will have one or more of the four basic programming options outlined above.

Set The Time

Begin by pressing the SET button until the time or date display begins to flash. Then, use the arrow buttons on the thermostat to adjust the correct time of the day. Press the DONE or SET button again to save the time.

Set The First Program

Press the SET key then proceed to SET SCHEDULE. Use the up and down arrow keys until the display flashes to MON-FRIDAY WAKE display and then, press next.

Again, use the up and down arrow keys to set the WAKE timing for Monday to Friday, the press next. Use the up and down arrow keys to set the desired temperature and then, move to the next period.

Follow the same steps as above for the LEAVE, RETURN, and SLEEP periods. This is standard programming for most programmable Honeywell thermostats.

Set The Next Program

The next step is to unlock the settings for the weekend.  To do so, simply follow Step 2 instructions and set the thermostat based on the programming option, i.e. 5+2 or 5+1+1.

Complete The Program And Make Adjustments

Once you are done with the programming, simply press the DONE button to close the menu. If you want to make changes before closing the menu, press the SET SCHEDULE button. Use the NEXT button to toggle through the menu and the up and down arrow keys to toggle through the functions to make changes to the settings.

In case you want to make temporary changes, for example, on a day you are late to wake up, simply use the arrow buttons to set the desired temperature. The thermostat will then display TEMPORARY on the screen and provide the desired temperature. When you want to return to the permanent settings, simply press the RUN Schedule button.


When you master the ins and outs of programming your thermostats, a flashing return indicator should hopefully no longer confuse. We hope this guide helps you in understanding the “Return” schedule and leave a comment if there’s anything you think we can add to the guide!


Honeywell Home

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