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How to Change a Thermostat: A Simple Guide

Updated: Jun 27, 2023

Everything You Need To Know To Change Your Thermostat!

A person changing a thermostat with wires sticking out of the wall

Want to save energy? Improve your comfort? Want a modern interface? Our how to guide includes everything you need to know to change your thermostat! At it's most basic a thermostat is a device that controls the temperature of your home by completing circuits to your HVAC unit to switch it's functions on or off. There are different types of thermostats available, such as mechanical, digital, programmable, and smart thermostats. Each type has its own features, benefits, and drawbacks. Modern digital thermostats feature built in protections, to help your unit keep working for years to come, in addition to helping to hold your house closer to the set temperature than their mechanical counterparts. It may even reduce energy cost or, in rare cases, unlock untapped potential in your system! In this article, we will show you how to change a thermostat in a few easy steps.

Changing your thermostat is a simple task that can save you money!

Table of Contents:

Why You Should Upgrade

In addition to allowing greater temperature differentials before activating mechanical thermostats, and some older digital thermostats, lack the built in time delay to minimize the risk of damage to your unit during power surges and outages. Those with multi-stage units may even greatly lower their utility bills if there are stages or functions that were not previously wired or supported by the existing thermostat.

What You Will Need

Before you start changing your thermostat, you will need some tools and materials. Here is a list of what you will need: A new thermostat of your choice. Make sure it is compatible with your HVAC system and your wiring. I presently recommend Honeywell's T-1, T-3, and T-4 thermostats as well as all but the first generation of Nest thermostats. While they are a bit older the Honeywell 3000 Series, 5000 Series, 6000 Series, and 8000 Series all hold up well today. See our post Thermostat Manufacture Installation Guides for more information about my recommended thermostats. Alternatively, you can use this online guide to help you choose the right thermostat for your home:

  • A screwdriver

  • A drill and drill bits (optional)

  • A torpedo level

  • A wire stripper

  • Wire nuts or electrical tape

  • A camera or a pen and paper

How to Change a Thermostat

Changing a thermostat is not a difficult task, but it requires some caution and attention. Here are the steps to follow:

  • Turn off the power to your HVAC system at the circuit breaker or the main switch. This will prevent any electrical shocks or damage to your equipment.

  • Remove the old thermostat from the wall. Depending on the model, you may need to unscrew it or snap it off its base. Be careful not to damage the wires attached to it.

  • Take a picture of the wiring or label the wires with a pen and paper. This will help you remember how to connect them to the new thermostat. Note that different thermostats may have different wiring codes and colors, so don’t rely on them to match.

  • Disconnect the wires from the old thermostat and secure them with wire nuts or electrical tape.

  • Install the new thermostat base on the wall. You may need to drill new holes or use anchors if the old ones don’t match. Use a torpedo level to make sure the base is straight and aligned.

  • Connect the wires to the new thermostat according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Use a wire stripper to expose about half an inch of wire if needed. Match the wires to the terminals on the thermostat base and tighten them with a screwdriver. Make sure there are no loose or exposed wires.

  • Attach the new thermostat cover to the base. Depending on the model, you may need to snap it on or screw it in place.

  • Program the settings of the new thermostat according to the manufacture instructions for your equipment type.

  • Turn on the power to your HVAC system and test your new thermostat. Set it to your desired temperature and mode and check if your HVAC unit responds accordingly. If not, check your wiring connections and consult the troubleshooting section of your manual.


Changing a thermostat can be a simple and rewarding project that can enhance your HVAC system and your home comfort. By following these steps, you can change your thermostat in no time and enjoy its benefits.

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