Lower Utility Bills With a New Thermostat

By Dave Donovan

High electric bills getting you down? Do you run and hide when the gas bill comes in the mail? With the rising costs of fuel and electricity, energy conservation is a highly discussed topic in most households today. According to thermostat manufacturer Honeywell, you may be able to save up to 35 percent on your annual utility bills by simply installing a new digital thermostat. That's over a third of the amount you're spending now! With the ease of installation, and the reasonable prices of newer thermostats, it doesn't make sense to continue to rely on your old manual thermostat dial.

One of the key benefits that comes with installing a new thermostat is the ability to have multiple temperature settings throughout the day and night. Turn the air conditioning off when everyone's at work and school. Have it kick back on a half-hour before everyone gets home. Same thing in the winter - turn the heat down while everybody's sleeping and have it warm up right before you get out of bed. It will save you a lot of money, and it will actually make your house a more comfortable place.

You love to save money, and you want a more comfortable house, but the sight of all those thermostat wires makes you weak in the knees. You don't want to hook it up wrong and blow everything up, right? Don't worry. You're looking for bombs where there are none. Follow these simple steps to learn how to replace your old thermostat quickly and easily.

The only tools you'll need for this job are:

  • Wire strippers
  • Screwdriver
  • Masking tape
  • Drill
  • Torpedo level

1. Although the voltage in a thermostat is low voltage, it can still pose a danger. Find the breaker that controls it and shut it OFF.

2. Remove the cover from the existing thermostat. You may notice a number of colored wires. You will notice on the thermostat that there are numbers or letters next to the screws holding the wires on. Take small pieces of masking tape, wrap them around each wire and write the number or letter on the tape for each wire. Disconnect each wire. Be careful not to let the wires fall back into the hole! Wrapping them around a pencil is an easy way to prevent that mishap. Unscrew the two screws holding the wall plate to the wall.

3. Next, open up the new thermostat and separate the faceplate from the backing plate. If the anchors that held the old thermostat don't line up with the new one, you will have to mark where the holes line up and drill new holes in the wall. Install the anchors in the drywall in the designated holes.

4. Pull the wires through the back of the backing plate and screw the plate into the anchors. Use the torpedo level to make sure the plate is installed on the level. Thermostats are delicate pieces of electronics and need to be level to function properly.

5. Check the wires to see if any are corroded or crimped to the point of breaking. Cut away any suspect lengths with the wire strippers. Strip away about 3/4" of the insulation from the wires. Line up the numbers or letters on the tape on each wire with the numbers or letters on the new thermostat. Unfortunately, it doesn't always work out that easily. Numbers and codes vary between manufacturers, so pay close attention to the wiring instructions that came with your new thermostat. In most cases, however, R stands for the red wire, G stands for green, Y stands for yellow, and well, you get the picture.

6. Once the wires are connected, attach the faceplate to the backplate. Most digital thermostats require a battery and most include one in the packaging. Install the battery. Turn the power back on.

All you have to do now is set the time, temperature, and program cycle. This may prove to be the most challenging part of the entire job! So keep that manual somewhere safe - you never know when you may need it.

Click here to purchase thermostats.

Dave Donovan is a freelance copywriter living in Atco, N.J. An electrician for 15 years, an injury forced him to pursue his true passion - writing.

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