The Green Blog
Warming Up to Wireless Thermostats

How to easily install a wireless thermostat in your home
By Chris Long, Guest Blogger 


Regardless of the economy, we're always looking for ways to save money, and it's an even bigger bonus if we help the environment at the same time. Home temperature control is one of those areas that does both when managed correctly. If we take the time and effort to ensure that we're not wasting electricity by running the heater or air conditioner when no one is home, or adjusting it when everyone's asleep, we're not only helping our wallets, we're also helping to curb energy waste.

One of the biggest problems with this, however, is that most of us don't have the time to run over and adjust our thermostats four or five times a day, and even with improvements in programmable thermostats, there are still times when our schedules change and temperatures need to be adjusted manually.

Thanks to the steady rise of smartphone and wireless technology, however, running to the thermostat will soon be an issue of the past. There are currently dozens of wireless thermostats available on the market that allow homeowners to view their indoor temperature, check their energy savings, and adjust temperatures either immediately or program them out over certain periods of time. Instead of relying on a preset program, you can alter temperatures as needed from your phone, even if you're enjoying a brief moment of quiet time in your favorite chair. What's more, wireless thermostats aren't that difficult to install. As long as you're comfortable with just a little bit of wire work, installing a new wireless thermostat system can be a snap.

The wireless upgrade

 Some of the newer thermostats have upgrade capabilities that allow for the installation of wireless hardware. GE's Nucleus system, for example, wirelessly monitors appliances throughout your home and reports how much energy is being expended at any given time. It works through a smart grid system, and most modern GE appliances come with the option to install a ZigBee device, or a piece of hardware that will connect that product with the smart grid. If you have a newer GE thermostat, it's likely you can get the ZigBee device and simply click it into place, following the displayed instructions to connect it to your home network and register online so you can instantly view your energy expenditures and adjust your home temperature from your smartphone. Some newer Venstar  products also have a wireless key installation option called Skyport Wi-Fi, as do some newer Honeywell thermostats through their REDLink Comfort system.

Quick and easy installation

If you need to ditch your current thermostat altogether (and don't forget to recycle your e-waste!), installing a new wireless thermostat takes little effort and only a bit of work with electrical wires. If you're uncomfortable in any way about working with electricity, though, call an electrician to handle the installation.

Basic wireless thermostat installation

> Before starting, make sure you turn off the all of the power in your house from your breaker box. You don't want to risk zapping yourself as you make the switch.

> Carefully remove your old thermostat from the wall. It will likely come off in two parts: the face and the back. Be sure you have the tools on hand to remove the back from the wall.

> Leave the wires that are attached to the back of the unit in place for a moment. Each wire should attach to the back of your old thermostat at a lettered port such as W, C, Y, etc. Carefully label each of these wires before removing them so you know which wire attaches to what.

> If you want to cover up any damage around the old thermostat, attach a wall plate now, making sure it's level before screwing it into place.

> Attach the back of your new wireless thermostat to the wall and run the wires through the hole in the center. If the wires need to be attached before attaching the backing to the wall, however, skip to the next step.

> You should see the same lettered ports in your new thermostat as in your old one. Take your labeled wires and clip them into place in their appropriate ports. Once secure, and if you haven't already, attach the back of the thermostat to the wall.

> Snap the front or cover of your thermostat into place and go turn the power back on. Check to make sure the thermostat comes on.

You're done!

Once your wireless thermostat is installed, follow the directions displayed to connect it wirelessly to your home network and set up your online account. From there you'll be able to program your thermostat, pre-program it, check out the features, and learn how to access and control it from your smartphone.

There are a number of other types of wireless devices on the market and some units might require the installation of a single receiver if you're looking to have more than one wireless thermostat in your home, but fortunately technology is improving to the point where modern product installations are becoming much more intuitive. With a little effort, you could make some big changes to your energy expenditures and overall environmental footprint.

Have you installed a wireless thermostat in your home? What improvements, if any, did you see after installing it? Do you have a favorite wireless thermostat that you would recommend to others? Tell us at Pink Goes Green.

Chris Long is a Home Depot store associate in the Chicago suburbs and has been helping consumers make informed decisions since 2000. He also writes for the
Home Depot blog. Chris has interests in household electrical topics ranging from the simple smoke detector to solar panels.

Pink Goes Green does not endorse any particular product. All information contained on or available through this blog is for general information purposes only.