clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

How Do Smart Thermostats Work?

Learn about features, installation, and the difference between traditional and smart thermostats.

Smart thermostats are a growing trend, helping homeowners save on energy costs and become truly strategic with their heating and cooling use. Even in older homes, the installation process is simple and straightforward. Here’s how smart thermostats stack up against traditional ones and how to install one in your own home.

How Do Smart Thermostats Work?

Smart thermostats are hardwired just as traditional thermostats are, but you’ll also need a Wi-Fi connection to make them work remotely. If your Wi-Fi goes out, you can still manually operate a smart thermostat just as you would a regular one.

Check with the manufacturer to make sure your desired smart thermostat is compatible with your heating and cooling setup, especially if you own an older home. Even if you have old thermostats connected to radiators, there’s likely to be a smart version that will work in your house.

How Much Does Do They Cost?

While certainly more expensive than a traditional thermostat, smart versions aren’t quite as costly as they used to be. Expect to spend between $140 and $300 depending on the features you want.

Smart vs. Traditional Thermostats

Traditional thermostats range in their capabilities, with the most basic using a simple dial to set your desired temperature and the slightly more complicated clock thermostat requiring multiple buttons to program your daily preferences.

A smart thermostat, on the other hand, optimizes your home’s heating and cooling based on your habits, programming preferences, and even your location.

What Features Apply to Smart Thermostats?

Many smart thermostats have the ability to:

  • Learn your schedule and make adjustments when you’re at work or asleep.
  • Connect to a mobile app on your phone use geofencing and make adjustments as you get closer to home.
  • Keep track of your energy use and have the ability to detect if there’s a problem with your HVAC unit.
  • Set reminders for scheduling annual maintenance and replacing air filters.
  • Integrate with smart speakers in your home, if you have them. So you can simply ask your virtual assistant device to make a temperature change.
  • Customization combined with ongoing analytics make smart thermostats extremely attractive.

How to Install a Smart Thermostat

Installing a smart thermostat is simple.

  1. Start by turning off the furnace power.
  2. Next, remove the faceplate and take a picture of the wire connections. Ideally, the colored wires will match up to their corresponding letters; for example, the red wire should connect to the R slot. However, this isn’t always the case.
  3. Unscrew the existing backplate and replace it with your new smart thermostat.
  4. Then match up the wires to the correct connections. Your thermostat should then click directly onto the base. Once that’s done you can turn on the power and follow the setup instructions on the screen.
  5. First, you’ll connect the thermostat to the Internet. Then you might be asked some questions about your home, like when it was last remodeled and what your preferred high/low temperatures are. It’s an easy process that should only take a few minutes.

Once the smart thermostat is up and running, you can enjoy all of the features that come with it, along with major savings all year long.