How Do I Change a Thermostat?

digital thermostat

Do you still control your heating and cooling system with a manual analog thermostat? If so, you’re missing out on the opportunity to save energy with a programmable thermostat. And if you upgrade to a smart Wi-Fi thermostat, you gain futuristic remote control of the indoor temperature using your smartphone, your tablet, or even your voice.

Changing a thermostat is quite an easy do-it-yourself job. Of course, you can always call an HVAC contractor for help if you don’t feel comfortable installing a thermostat yourself.

Is My Home Compatible With a Wi-Fi Thermostat?

You may have your heart set on a smart thermostat, but before you buy one, make sure your HVAC system’s wiring can support it. Most Wi-Fi thermostats require a common wire (C-wire) connection for continuous power. However, many older homes, even those built just a few decades ago, don’t have a C-wire.

To check, you’ll need to remove the existing thermostat faceplate from the wall (more instructions on that below). Look inside, and see if there’s a wire connected to the C-terminal. If so, you’re all set to install a smart thermostat. If not, there could still be an unused C-wire hidden in the wall. Examine the bundle of wires carefully to see if an unused C-wire is coiled around one of the others.

If it turns out that no C-wire is present, here are your options:

  • Install a regular programmable thermostat without smart capabilities.
  • Hire a licensed HVAC technician to install a C-wire so you can use a Wi-Fi thermostat.
  • Choose a Wi-Fi thermostat model that runs on battery power and doesn’t require a C-wire.

How to Install a Thermostat

Every HVAC system and thermostat model has slightly different requirements, but the basic thermostat installation steps should be the same. Here’s what the process entails:

  1. Turn off the power: Before you begin, set the thermostat to “off.” Then, flip the circuit breaker that powers the HVAC system to avoid the risk of electrocution or short circuits.
  2. Remove the faceplate and take a picture: The faceplate should pop off without any tools. Once the wires are exposed, take a quick photo before disconnecting them. You can also label and attach small pieces of tape to note which wires connect to which terminals. This makes it easier to hook up your new thermostat properly.
  3. Disconnect the thermostat wiring: Use a small screwdriver to loosen the screws holding the wires in place, and pull the wires free.
  4. Remove the wall mount: This flat piece of plastic usually has two screws mounting it to the wall. Unscrew each one and gently pull the mount away. Hold onto the wires with one hand to ensure they don’t fall behind the wall. If needed, secure the wires by taping them to the wall while you work.
  5. Attach the new wall mount: Place the new wall mount in position and feed the wires through the hole in the back. Then, screw it to the wall. Note that if the new thermostat doesn’t line up with the old holes, you’ll need to drill new ones.
  6. Connect the wires: Attach each wire to the proper terminal, referencing the photo you took earlier. Note that your new thermostat may not require screws to secure the wiring.
  7. Insert batteries: Many modern thermostats need batteries to operate or use battery backup power to avoid losing programmed settings in the event of a power outage. If your thermostat uses batteries, insert the type listed in the user manual.
  8. Attach the new thermostat faceplate: Line up the faceplate with the wall mount and snap it into place. Consult the user manual if you run into any issues attaching the faceplate.
  9. Restore power: Flip the circuit breaker back on to restore the power flow to your thermostat and HVAC system.
  10. The program, configure, and test your new thermostat: Every thermostat has different programming and configuration requirements, so check the user manual for more information. Once you think it’s all set, power on the HVAC system. Run a heating and cooling cycle to test your thermostat installation.

Get Help Changing the Thermostat in Your Florida Home

If you need help installing a C-wire or don’t feel comfortable changing the thermostat yourself, Certified Climate Control can help. We have years of experience installing and servicing HVAC systems and their related components. As a preferred dealer for Daikin, Bryant, and other leading brands, you can count on us to install the best products available. We also retain an A+ rating with the BBB for your peace of mind. Get in touch with us today to schedule thermostat installation or other HVAC services in Orange, Seminole, or Volusia County, FL.