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digital programmable thermostatIf you’ve been putzing around with an old thermostat, and you’re tired of all the hassles, you should consider replacing it with a new programmable one. In only a few simple steps, you will never again have to lift a finger to have your home always set at the perfect temperature.

How to Replace an Existing Thermostat with a Programmable Thermostat (in 8 Steps)

1.) Cut the power to your Thermostat.

This is usually done via a switch found near either your furnace or your boiler. Doing so of course will ensure safe replacement of the thermostat.

2.) Remove the Faceplate of the old Thermostat.

Once the power supply has been turned off, remove the faceplate of your old thermostat. You should be able to do this using only a flat-head screwdriver. Use caution when doing so however, because many old thermostats contain mercury. (If you are disposing of a thermostat containing mercury, contact your local recycling company to determine the best way to do so.)

3.) Photograph, Label and Note Existing Wires.

Next, gently pull out any slack in the existing thermostat wires.  Note and label them according to where they are currently attached to the existing thermostat. You do this because these wires will mount the same way to your new thermostat.

Note: You may notice that there are only two wires. If this is the case, be prepared to possibly contact an electrician or an HVAC company as a lot of programmable thermostats require three wires.

4.) Attach a Binder Clip, a Pencil or etc. to Wires – Eliminates the possibly that they’ll slip back into the wall.

Disconnect your wires being careful not to let them slip back into the wall.  Wrapping their ends loosely around a thin, light object (like a pencil) may help with this.

5.) Attach to the new Thermostat Plate to the Wall.

You are now ready to install your new thermostat. First screw on the new thermostat plate. It is best to drill new holes in your wall to ensure that the thermostat will be straight and sturdy. While thermostats are relatively lightweight, it is still wise to find a stud or to use appropriate drywall anchors when mounting.

6.) Wire the New Programmable Thermostat.

Then, match your labeled wires to the corresponding terminals on the new thermostat … and attach them. (The thermostat’s enclosed instructions should be able to assist with this if you still have questions at this point.)

7.) Attach the Thermostat to the Faceplate.

Typically they click into place, but a set screw or other mounting method may exist. Refer to Instructions on your new thermostat.

8.) Power back up your heat source.

Viola! You are now ready to enjoy the comfortable, effortless regulation of temperature in your home.

Why Install a Programmable Thermostat

Installing a programmable thermostat is a great idea because it can actually save you money in the long run. In the winter for example – say you’re not home for a large portion of the day or if you don’t notice temperature changes while you’re sleeping, then there’s no need to have your heat on high during those times. Changing the temperature yourself by hand, and remembering that the house will take some time to reach a desired temperature, makes regulating temperature a painstaking and somewhat thankless chore.

With a programmable thermostat, though, you can have your thermostat regulate the temperature for you so that when you’re not home or when you’re asleep the house is cooler. More importantly, you can also set it so that by the time you’re home or by the time you’re awake, the house can reach the desired temperature.

Basically, since you’re furnace won’t be running as much, you can save a whole heck of a lot of money on your energy bills. Find many options by searching Programmable Thermostats on Amazon. Many have cool features, like touch screen or wifi connectivity.

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Programming Your Programmable Thermostat

Setting your programmable thermostat depends on the kind of thermostat you purchased. A 7-day thermostat allows you to set for different temperatures each day of the week. A 5-2 day model allows you to set a temperature schedule for five days of the week, but a different temperature schedule for two days of the week. Finally, a 5-1-1 day model allows you to set a temperature schedule for five days of the week, and also set a separate, different temperature schedule for two other days of the week.

Be sure to consider these options before purchasing your thermostat so you’re sure to choose the right one for your home.  From there, perfecting a schedule (that works for both you and your family) should be nothing more than a matter of trial and error.

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Contributor Lauren Beerling works with Norton Homes, a Minneapolis custom home builder. For more articles from us on the topic of Heating & Cooling, please see our HVAC category. For more on the topic, plus supporting images, perhaps this article from The Art of Manliness How to Change a Thermostat. ~jb