By Gene and Katie Hamilton
We all want to live in a home with a comfortable climate, and one way to do that affordably is to throttle down the heat or air conditioning when everyone's asleep or away. A programmable thermostat helps you do just that, changing temperatures to preset levels corresponding to your family's schedule. These units - available for gas and oil furnace systems and heat pumps - are sold at home centers. Look for one with the familiar blue Energy Star on its label. Energy Star is a rating system that helps homeowners and businesses choose energy efficient products and practices.
An electrician will charge $182 to replace a thermostat with a seven-day programmable unit that is compatible with a heat pump, which includes labor and material. But you can buy one designed for a homeowner to install for $95 and save 47 percent by doing it yourself. If you're uncertain of your ability to do electrical work, hire an electrician or heating contractor.
To make the replacement, read the instruction manual to get an overview of the job. When you're ready to begin, turn off the electricity to the unit. Remove the front of the old thermostat and look at the wire connections. In Honeywell's manual for their Model RTH7600D, we found lettered tags to label the wires as you disconnect them. Open the new unit and mount it on the wall by drilling holes for the screws and anchors included in the package. Match the labeled wires coming out of the wall with the same letter on the new thermostat. Use a screwdriver to loosen the screws, insert the wires in the hole and tighten the screws. Insert batteries in the back of the unit, install the front and turn on the electricity. You're ready to program the unit for your family's schedule.
To keep your heating system working at its best, have a heating contractor tune up the furnace once a year and make sure that checkup includes testing for carbon monoxide. Then change the filter according to the manufacturer's directions and you’re good to go.
Here is a link to a review by Consumer Reports about Thermostats.
Now you know the average cost to install a programmable thermostat, which includes the labor and material, and what’s involved, so you can decide to do it yourself or hire a contractor. Don’t forget to adjust the cost to where you live by adding your ZIP Code.
Improvement and Repair Cost Updated 2018
The cost and time data is generated by averaging labor and material data from annually updated cost books used by contractors and refined by the authors'
experience remodeling 13 houses. They are authors of 20 home improvement books and Do It Yourself or Not, a weekly column syndicated by Tribune Content
Agency. The national cost can be adjusted by ZIP Code.