How to Change a Thermostat

Nest vs. EcoBee

Here’s a way to save energy and money on your heating and cooling bills, replace your old thermostat with a new, programmable one, every degree you cut back over an eight hour period will save you one percent, which of course can add up to hundreds of dollars. A programmable thermostat lets you set up pre-programmed temperature settings for different times of the day for each day of the week, simply program in the day, the start and end times, and the desired temperature for each period and your thermostat does the rest. Always look for the “Energy Star” label to make sure it meets the energy efficiency guidelines established by the government.  

Your thermostat should be located on an inside wall about five feet up from the floor. In order to get an accurate reading it should be away from any conditions that could adversely affect the temperature like direct sunlight or drafts, if those conditions do exist you’ll want to give us a call to discuss moving the location of your thermostat. 

Before you start, turn off the power to your furnace and air conditioner at the service panel. This prevents you from accidentally shorting the low voltage wiring and blowing a fuse. Now remove the cover from your old thermostat, some units have locking screens while others snap on and off, so consult the instructions if you need to. Now you can remove the thermostat from the wall by simply unscrewing the mounting hardware. Once you’ve removed the cover, place a piece of tape to the wires with the letter of the terminal that you’re connecting it to. Because there’s no standard color code each letter might not necessarily match the color of your wire, that’s why it’s important to match the wire with the corresponding terminal code before you disconnect it. You can also take a quick pic with your smartphone as well. You just need to make sure that you can remember which wire goes into which port. Just below is a pic I took when changing a recent thermostat for a customer. Once everything is marked, simply disconnect the wires from the terminals with a screwdriver. 

You’ll notice the wire color doesn’t necessarily match the label

Separate the front of your new thermostat from the base, in some cases there’s a hatch on the bottom that, when pressed, removes the top of the thermostat from the bottom. Position the base on the wall with the wires protruding through the center opening. Use a small level to line it up properly and mark the screw holes with a pencil. Remove the base and drill three sixteenth holes in the marked screw locations, tap a plastic anchor into each of the holes until its flush with the wall. Feed the wires through the opening on the base of the thermostat and attach it to the wall. 

Ok, now it’s time to get everything wired up, this is where it really comes in handy to have the wires properly marked and you may have noticed earlier that there might have been extra wires that you weren’t using, that’s ok just disregard those it’ll be fine. With a screwdriver connect each marked wire to the appropriate terminal on the new thermostat, if your connections don’t match consult the manual for the correct wiring setup. Install new batteries into the main control unit, make sure the size and polarity is correct, then press the reset button to clear the program memory. Now attach the control unit to the base by hooking the top and swinging down the body to snap it into place. Turn the power back on and test your thermostat to make sure both the furnace and the air conditioner are cycling properly. Of course your heating and cooling needs will change with the seasons so you’ll probably need to adjust the program periodically to meet your lifestyle. If you have more than one heating and cooling system then an adjustable thermostat on each one means more efficiency. 

When picking a thermostat there are a few things you need to know. First, what type of system do you have? Gas furnace with a single stage of heat, or a heat pump with 2 stages of heat? An air conditioner with one or two stages of cooling? Normally, a gas furnace is single stage heat and single stage cooling. A heat pump is normally 2 stages of heat and a single stage of cooling. If you get the wrong one you may find that the second stage doesn’t engage. If you have any questions give us a call and we can help you figure it out. Second, how smart do you want your thermostat to be? Do you want wifi ability? Smart temperature control? Some thermostats have a sensor that knows when you’re home and when you’re not and can automatically adjust the settings for you. Some people love this feature, others find it problematic. It’s just a matter of what you prefer. 

Here are my recommendations. For a standard digital, programmable thermostat I recommend the Honeywell T-4 and T-6 pro. For a wifi enabled thermostat I recommend the EcoBee 4. This one also comes with room sensors to help fine tune the comfort in each room. Another fan favorite is the Nest thermostat by Google. It is also wifi enabled and also has smart sensor technology so it can tell when you get home and adjust automatically. 

If you have any questions about which thermostat is right for you, how to change it, etc. give us a call. We’d be glad to help.  

For information on how to change your air filter check out our video here.

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