How to Install a Smart Thermostat

These eco-friendly gadgets learn your habits, then help you save energy and money. Did we mention that they're super easy to install?

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Don't let an old thermostat suck the energy (literally!) out of your home. Upgrade to a smart, easy-to-program, and energy-efficient thermostat. They're easier to install than you might think, and many models pay for themselves after a year.

Before you buy a smart thermostat, make sure your home's heating and cooling system is compatible with it. Also be sure to download the thermostat's mobile app (if available) so you can track your usage, set your thermostat on the go, and learn how to use less energy. 

24 Tips for Energy-Efficient Homes

What You Need

  • Programmable thermostat (we used the Nest Learning Thermostat)
  • Screwdriver
  • Camera or smartphone
  • Joint compound
  • Putty knife
  • Sandpaper
  • Paintbrush
  • Paint
  • Screws
  • Drill (optional)

Step 1: Turn Off Power

Turn off power at the circuit breaker for your heating and cooling system. If the system is running, wait until it stops. Then drastically adjust the temperature. If you don't hear the air kick on, then you know it's off. 

Step 2: Remove Old Thermostat

Snap off or unscrew the existing thermostat cover. Take a picture of the wires with a camera or smartphone to remember how your system is laid out.

More Smart Ideas for Saving Energy and Money 

Step 3: Label Wires

Use small stickers (the Nest comes with labeled stickers) or pieces of colored tape to label each wire. Then disconnect the old thermostat backplate with a screwdriver.

Step 4: Patch and Paint

Unless your new thermostat is the same shape and size as the old one, you'll likely need to patch the wall. Spread joint compound onto the wall with a putty knife. Let dry. Lightly sand the area, then paint to match the existing wall shade. Let dry.

How to Patch a Wall

Step 5: Attach New Thermostat

Thread the wires through the backplate of the new thermostat. Attach backplate to wall with screws. If desired, predrill the holes.

Step 6: Connect New Thermostat

Insert each labeled wire into its matching connector. Push the wires in until they click. Once all wires are attached, push them flat against the wall to make room for the thermostat display plate. 

Step 7: Attach Display Plate

Attach the thermostat display plate to the backplate. You should hear it snap securely into place.

Step 8: Program Thermostat

Turn the power back on at circuit breaker. Then program the thermostat according to manufacturer's instructions. A smart thermostat will learn your habits and sync to your mobile phone, allowing you to adjust your home's temperature at any point and saving you money on energy bills.

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