Wireless Thermostats Can Improve Energy Savings


Go Green, Go Wireless

wireless thermostats

Wireless thermostats are not only easy to install, they also help save on energy. Our homes are getting smarter all the time. Well, maybe not the actual structures, but the little gadgets we add on over the years are getting smarter by the day.

Take thermostats, for example. Where there was once a time when we would have to sneak out of bed at night, tiptoe downstairs and ever so gently turn the thermostat up until we could feel the circulation return to our frozen toes, we can now change the room temperature while simply lying on the couch and clicking a button on our phones.

In fact, we don’t even need to be in the house anymore to get the indoor temperature to just the way we like it. Several new wireless thermostats come with a mobile phone control option that allows you to adjust your home temperature from virtually anywhere, and others come with the option to control temperatures from a website.

There are even thermostats that “learn” about your home over time, determining how long it takes to heat up certain rooms, and adjusting when they click on and off so that your house reaches the pre-programmed temperatures exactly on time.

Not only does this help you save money by allowing you to instantly drop temperatures when no one it home, it also helps you save on energy expenditures and ultimately lessens your impact on the environment.

They’re also not that hard to install. Depending on what you’re looking for, what thermostat you already have installed in your house, and whether or not you like the current location of your non-wireless thermostat, there are several options for quickly and easily installing a new wireless thermostat.

Plug the New Wireless Thermostat System In

If you have a newer thermostat system already installed in your home, chances are that there is a wireless plug-in option that can convert your programmable thermostat to a wireless one with almost no effort. Take Venstar’s ColorTouch thermostat, for example. The ColorTouch is a fairly recent model that displays everything from wallpapers and screensavers to information on your energy usage and time period programming.

With the installation of the Skyport Wi-Fi Key, homeowners can view and change their home temperature, check on the health of their system, view weather forecasts and send text messages that display on the thermostat monitor as notes to family members, all from their phones.

To install it, simply slide the Skyport Wi-Fi Key into the SD slot on the side of the thermostat. The thermostat will let you know that it was installed successfully and will scan for your local network. Just confirm the correct network, type in your security key if you have one, and follow the displayed instructions on completing your account setup and preferences online.

Out With the Old, in With the New

If you’re still living with an older model thermostat, however, it probably doesn’t come with the option to install new software. Instead, you can replace your old thermostat with a new wireless device, as long as you’re happy with the location of your current thermostat.

First things first, however: turn off your power! If you are uncomfortable working with electricity in any way, you should contact an electrician to handle the installation. Again, it’s not hard, but it’s going to require that you handle a couple of wires.

For this example, we’ll use the new Nest wireless thermostat. This device looks a lot like a thermostat iPod, and for good reason; it was created by former iPod Senior Vice President Tony Faddell. To install, first turn off your power and then remove your old thermostat. Some click into place and others use screws.

Be careful, but remember that you can always add a wall plate later to cover up any tears or holes hear the device. As you remove the thermostat, you’ll see a handful of wires coming out of the back that attach to labeled clips in the thermostat.

Before removing those wires, carefully label each wire with the lettered ports they attach to, such as W, Y, RH, AUX, etc. Some systems only have two wires, while others may have five or six. Once all of the wires are labeled, you can unclip the wires from the old device. At this point you might want to install that wall plate if you wanted one.

Once it’s in place, attach the back portion of the thermostat — the one with the wire ports — to the wall and attach the wires to the clips in the new device, matching the correct wires to the correct ports. Once those are in place, snap on the face, turn your power back on and follow the instructions for programming.

In Need of a Receiver

Not all thermostats are where homeowners want to them to be, however. They might be in drafty rooms or in spots that get too much sunlight during the day. In this case, you might want to consider a wireless thermostat system that can be located anywhere in the house and simply communicates with one receiving unit that’s tied in with your furnace.

Again, this installation requires dealing with electricity, so turn that power off before you do anything! We’ll use the Honeywell wireless installation kit for this example. After turning off your power, open up your furnace and locate the panel where your old wired thermostat connects to the furnace.

Attach the receiving unit to the wall and run the old thermostat wires to the receiving unit, being sure to attach the wires to the same clips they were attached to earlier: C wire to C clip, W wire to W clip, etc. Once the wires are in place, attach the face plate to the receiver, turn the power back on and a small light should indicate if the power is running to the unit correctly (this would have been done when you attached the C wire or common wire carrying 24V to the receiver).

Once you have confirmation on power, click the “connect” button at the bottom of the panel and the receiver will begin talking to all of the compatible thermostats in the house, no matter where they’re located.

Depending on your current home technology and what you’re looking for with your wireless thermostat, don’t be daunted by the idea that it will be a long and laborious process installing your new system. Not only has technology improved, but efforts are being made each day to make electronics more intuitive and easier to handle for the common man and woman.

Have you had difficultly installing a wireless thermostat in your home? What are some of the features you enjoy/dislike about wireless thermostats?

This has been a guest post by Chris Long, a store associate at a Home Depot in the Chicago suburbs, where he has been helping customers since 2000. Chris has interests in household electrical topics ranging from smoke detectors to solar panels.

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