Upgrade Your Old Thermostat To Digital

Replacing your old thermostat with a programmable or digital thermostat can make a big difference on your energy bills during the year. This guide will teach you how to replace an old mercury, dial or manual settings thermostat with a new digital thermostat.

You Don’t Really Need A Smart Thermostat 

When it’s time for a new thermostat, you have many choices. It’s hard to believe but you can still buy the old time manual dial thermostats for around $30 at Lowes and Home Depot. A manual thermostat requires you to manually set a desired temperature by turning a knob or sliding a small lever.

For most replacements, this is the cheapest and easiest thing to do. But it is not the most efficient thermostat. Although they seem cheaper, they eventually will cost you more than a simple digital, programmable or smart thermostat. Manual thermostats are not that precise and waste a lot of energy which means higher utility bills for you.

Upgrade To Digital

The next step up in thermostats is digital. This is where it starts to get confusing because of all the different styles and functions that are available. In the long run, a digital thermostat will save you money. You can read more here about savings: Energy Savings From Energy.gov.

Yes, you should upgrade to digital but do you need a smart thermostat? A simple upgrade to digital will cost about $60. An upgrade to a smart device starts around $150 and can be as much as $300.

Now with a smart thermostat, you get many features and benefits. However, you probably will only use two of them: Controlling your homes temperature by phone and monitoring your energy usage. Most smart thermostats have additional features like room sensors, maintenance scheduling, learning modes and voice commands.

Smart thermostats utilize Wi-Fi internet connections to give you access at all times. If you are into the bells and whistles and want 24 hour control, it may be worth the additional cost.

I’ve had all three in my homes. Manual, digital and smart versions. Definitely would not install a manual style these days. Digital adds less than $10 to the cost of a replacement and can be replaced in about an hour. Smart versions are nice, but I never really use all the features that I’ve already paid for! And smart thermostats will require the dreaded “C” wire. If you live in a home that’s older than 10 years, you probably don’t have this wire running from your furnace and it will need to be installed by a professional.

Get A Digital Thermostat But Not A Smart One

I recommend a basic digital thermostat with basic programming. With most digital styles, you don’t even need to use the programming features. They have a manual option and you can just set the temp to whatever you like. Yes, I do that partly because I’m lazy! That’s how I set mine in the summer and winter. Yes, I could program it, but its no big deal for me to adjust it up or down when I leave and adjust again when I come home.

And remember that great feature of adjusting the thermostat from your phone? I used it about twice a year. It seemed like someone was always home anyway and they already had it set at what they liked, or I just never bothered adjusting the temperature on my way home. It basically saves you about 5 seconds pressing a button. Not worth the additional cost to me, but maybe it is for you.

Tips To Replacing Your Old Thermostat With A Non Smart Style

Many replacements can be done on your own. If you are not comfortable using the required tools or don’t have any experience, always get a professional to do the installation for you.

Turn Off The Power To Your Furnace.

Turn off the power for your heating and air conditioning system at the main service panel. The correct circuit breaker should be clearly labeled. 

Remove Existing Thermostat

Usually all you will need is a screwdriver. Unscrew the thermostat mounting screws and remove the thermostat base.

Separate and Label The Wiring

Now you will need to disconnect the wires. Label the wires using colored tape so you can remember their locations. There is no standard color code, so make the wires easy to identify.

Install New Thermostat Base and Wiring

Follow manufacturer instructions for any small differences that exist from one unit to another. Tighten the wire connections and make sure the wires and sheathing are in good condition.

Add Batteries And Mount The Thermostat

Install the batteries in the thermostat base and mount to the wall. At this point you can review your owners manual for any programming you would like to do.

Enjoy The Benefits Of Your New Thermostat

There are several ways to save money on heating and cooling costs. These digital devices cost just a little more than the old style and much less than a smart device. But they are still equipped with modern technology. In the long run, a digital thermostat is energy-saving and cost-efficient and will work in almost every house.