How to Install a Programmable Thermostat

How to Install a Programmable Thermostat

Raise your hand if you still aren't using a programmable thermostat. Is it because it seems to expensive or difficult to do? Well put your hand back down and then to work while we tell you once and for all how to install and use a programmable thermostat to start saving energy and money (it takes less than an hour!)

What You Need

Programmable Thermostat (we used Honeywell's 5+2 RTH6300B &mdash it cost less than $60)

Phillips screwdriver
Small flat head screwdriver
Electric drill and
Drill bit (3/16" for drywall, 7/32 for plaster)
Electrical Tape (optional)
AA Batteries


1. Turn off electricity and power to HVAC system.

2. Remove Old Thermostat: Remove the old thermostat see wiring coming from the walls. NOTE: Don't throw away your old thermostat because many contain mercury &mdash contact your local waste authority to find the proposal disposal/drop-off facility.

3. Identify The Wires: Note the letters on the terminals where the wires attach. If any wires were not connected to terminals in your old thermostat, don't connect them to your new thermostat. Wrap the bare ends of any unused wires with electrical tape so they don't come in contact with the other wires.

4. Label Wires and Remove Old Thermostat: Unscrew the wires one at a time and mark the wires with the corresponding letters (our thermostat came with labeled stickers). Once all the wires have been labeled remove the old thermostat entirely from the wall.

5. Locate Wallplate Mounting Position: Place the new thermostat's wallplate one the wall and use a level and pencil to mark the mounting position.

6. Mount Wallplate: Drill holes at the pencil-marked locations and use your hammer to tap in the included anchors until they're flush with the wall. Place wallplate over anchors, insert screws, double-check that the wallplate is level and then tighten the screws.

7. Connect Wires: Using a screwdriver to loosen and tighten the terminals, attach the labeled wires to the corresponding terminals on the new thermostat. Keep any excess wire in the wall opening.

8. Install Batteries: Lastly, insert the AA batteries, put the wallplate on and turn the power back on. Our thermostat is designed so that the batteries can be changed without removing the thermostat from the wall or disrupting the programmed settings (the batteries used very little power and it should be noted we haven't needed to change ours in the 2+ years we've had our thermostat).

9. Program the Thermostat: Program the thermostat as outlined in the new thermostat's instruction manual. Because ours is a 5+2 thermostat, we have an option to have 5 days (M-F) with the one schedule and then a separate schedule for 2 days (Saturday and Sunday). For our particular model, the thermostat can run 4 cycles a day, so we have ours set to turn up about 30 minutes before the alarm goes off and stays on until we leave the house (1) and then turns back down while we're at work (2), then cycles back up about 30 minutes before we get home from work (3), and then turns back down shortly before we go to bed (4). Of course the temperatures settings will be reversed for the summer and the schedule cycles can also be overrun as needed.

Additional Notes: Installation will vary depending on your home's HVAC system and the thermostat you are using. Following the instruction manual and when in doubt contact a HVAC professional.

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(Images: Rachel Wray)

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