With record colds (and higher fuel prices) sweeping the nation, now might be a great time to consider installing a smart thermostat in your home. The good news is that these little efficiency boxes have gotten easier to install even as the technology has gotten more advanced. There are lots of YouTube guides available, as well as instructions included with your unit, but the basic steps are as follows:
- Turn off your HVAC at the breaker panel.
- Remove the faceplate. If it doesn’t pop right off, check for a tiny screw holding it in place.
- Snap a photo. Use your phone to take a picture of the wiring so you’ll know what wire connects to what.
- Remove the backplate from the wall.
- (Optional) Add a C-wire to power the thermostat. (Again, if wiring isn’t your thing, call an electrician.)
- Using the new backplate as a template, mark the wall with a pencil and drill holes to mark where the screws will go.
- Pull the thermostat wires through the backplate before screwing it into the wall.
- Connect the thermostat wires to the appropriate terminals (check the photo you took).
- Snap the new faceplate into place. If it doesn’t affix cleanly, check for loose wires, tuck them away, and try again.
- Switch your breaker back on.
- Once booted up, use the prompts to connect to the WiFi. Some smart thermostats come with a companion app for your phone which you’ll need to set up separately.
The smart thermostats available vary in price and features, so review and compare options at Consumer Reports here: https://www.consumerreports.org/products/thermostats-34572/smart-thermostats-200124/view2/
A few words of caution from Consumer Reports tester John Galeotafiore, though. 1. Don’t try to replace your thermostat on a freezing cold (or super hot) day or before guests are set to arrive—just in case you screw it up. 2. If you don’t feel confident, or you hit an unexpected roadblock, call an electrician. Better to pay a little service fee than to damage your HVAC by accident!