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8 Steps To Save Money On Your Utility Bills With A Programmable Thermostat

One of a homeowner's biggest expenses is utility bills. Whether you have natural gas, oil, or electrical heating in your home, your HVAC system is one of the biggest components to that utility bill. There are many ways to reduce your heating and cooling costs, but one of the best is to install a programmable thermostat. Here's how to do it in eight easy steps.

  1. Locate your breaker panel and turn off the power to your HVAC system.
  2. Pop the cover plate off of your old thermostat, and remove the mounting plate using a screwdriver.
  3. Note how the wires are connected. Label the wires, and draw a diagram.
  4. Disconnect the wires from the old thermostat. Fasten them so they don't fall back into the wall. Wrap them around a pencil or secure them with a clothespin or a clamp.
  5. Thread the wires through the mounting plate of the new thermostat, then position the mounting plate on the wall. Mark the screw holes after making sure the mounting plate is level.
  6. Drill the mounting holes where you marked them. If you are drilling into a stud, you can use a wood screw to fasten the mounting plate. If you are drilling into drywall, insert wall anchors into the holes, and then use the screws. Both screws and wall anchors should be included with the new thermostat.
  7. Attach the wires, using the labels or diagram to match the wires to the terminals on the new thermostat. Consult the manual to make sure you are connecting them properly. Wrap the wires clockwise around the screws to ensure a good connection when you tighten the screw, or crimp a spade connector onto the ends of the wires.
  8. Turn the power back on, first making sure that both heating and cooling controls are set to "off." Then program the unit according to the manufacturer's instructions in the manual.
  9. Most units will have a setback for both heating and cooling. The idea is to set the heating and cooling for a comfortable level when your home is occupied, but reduce it by 5 degrees or so during the day when your family is at work or school and at night while you are sleeping. By reducing the setting during those times, you will save a significant amount on your heating and cooling costs.