How to Install a Smart Thermostat in 8 Easy Steps


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Adding smart technology into your home is not only a great way to add convenience and value, but it’s also a great way to stay energy-efficient. Take the awesome smart thermostat for example… this gadget can be a high expense up front, but it will end up saving you big money in the long run. Some energy companies are even offering their customers $100+ in refunds if they show proof that they installed a smart thermostat!

Because this technology is a win-win-win in our playbook, we decided to show you how easy it is to make your home smarter with the smart thermostat. And when we say easy, we really mean it!  This entire project can be broken down into eight steps that shouldn’t take you longer than 30 minutes.

We installed the Nest for this tutorial, but there are a lot of awesome smart thermostats on the market. Do your research and find one that works best for you and your home.

What You Need

  • The Nest (or most any smart thermostat device – the product itself provides almost everything you need, including a screwdriver, screws, and a level)
  • Drill (optional)
  • Anchors (optional)
  • Touch-up paint, brush, painter’s tape (optional)

1. Turn off the Power

No matter how experienced you are with DIY projects, we highly recommend turning off the power to this system before moving on to the next steps. This is the safest way to install the smart technology and the only way we advise you to complete this installation. You will also want to make sure you have enough daylight left so you can see the project without the lights on.

2. Open up the Old Thermostat

After the electricity is off, we are ready to get to the fun part! Pop off the face of your current unit, which may require unscrewing a screw, depending on your unit. Ours popped right off, no screwdriver necessary. Above is what most thermostats look like without the cover, though yours may vary slightly. What matters most are the wires.

3. Label the Wires

Before you start removing the labels from your old thermostat, we need to label them so that we are fully prepared for the last few steps of this project. The Nest comes with these convenient stickers (right in the manual!) so you can keep your labels organized. If you don’t have stickers, just use whatever you can to label all of the wires. We only had four wires, but you may have more, so make sure you label everything! You’ll thank yourself later… we promise!

4. Take the Old Thermostat off the Wall

After the wires are clearly labeled, it’s time to unscrew the old thermostat and carefully pluck it off the wall. Use your screwdriver and it should come off fairly easily. Make sure that you’re not taking the wires (or stickers!) with you because you’ll need both of them soon.

5. Hang the New Thermostat

The Nest provides a level within the product (genius!), which makes this process extremely easy.  The level makes it simple to identify when the device is evenly placed on the wall, and that’s when you can make a mark so you later know where to drill. If your smart device has no internal level, don’t worry! It’s a pretty simple process to use an external level to make sure you’re screwing it on the wall correctly.

After you mark the wall, add your trim plate (if necessary – it’s the plastic encasing that goes around a lot of these smart devices) and hang the Nest using the markings you made to guide you. You may need to use an anchor for extra reinforcement into your wall during this step, which does not always come with the kit.

6. Attach the Wires to the New Thermostat

This is when those stickers come in handy. Not only is the technology itself smart, the team that created this kit may be even smarter because these stickers are genius! Simply match each wire’s label to the label on the Nest (or the labels you made yourself), then pop them firmly into place. Make sure the little box the wire goes into pushes down snugly, because that is how you will know it is tight, secure and connected.

7. Turn Electricity Back on 

If the Nest lights up a few moments after you turn the power back on, you have successfully completed the installation. If not, turn the electricity off and recheck the colored wires to make sure they’re both in the right spots and pushed down correctly.

Your little gadget will immediately start prompting you through a series of steps that will guide you to align this new technology with your home.

8. Control Your Heat and A/C from Your Cell Phone

This part is where the “smart” technology really comes in! Once you connect the Nest with your home’s wifi, you can monitor it from anywhere you have a wifi connection. That means you can click on the heat from work, turn on the air before you get back from vacation, or even change the temperature in the house while still laying in bed (that last one is probably our favorite!). If that’s not smart technology, we just don’t know what is.

So do you think you can tackle this project and make your home a little smarter, all while saving money and energy along the way? We’re confident that installing a smart thermostat is so simple that you now have all the steps you need to check this project off of your to-do list… maybe as soon as this weekend.

Here’s What Happened to Me After One Month Inside a Smart Home


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Like most 90s kids, I watched every single Disney Channel Original Movie—and there was no DCOM I loved more than Smart House. I was fascinated by the idea of a house equipped with “Personal Applied Technology” (“PAT” for short) that could listen and respond to every request while providing accurate information on demand. I can’t tell you how badly I wanted a home that could make my favorite smoothie, project any movie or music video I could imagine onto any wall, then turn my bedroom into a virtual beach.

As an adult, I still love Smart House, but for more practical reasons, admittedly.

During the process of making my house “smart” in the modern age, I discovered two common misconceptions. First, building a smart home is expensive, and second, so many gadgets require you to have to automate everything

After doing some serious digging, it turns out that neither is true. In fact, it’s possible to start off with just a wifi signal and one or two smart devices. 

Here’s what happened in my first month of installing a bunch of new devices.

It’s True: I Became Really Accustomed to Talking Out Loud to No One, Like in the Commercials

I’ve been slow to adopt the “Hey Siri” function on my iPhone, but I am all about asking my Amazon Echo to launch my favorite playlist or tell me the weather. Alexa and Echo’s personalities are like a personal butler who has more than 1,000 specific skills. I’ve learned to ask mine for everything from calling an Uber to helping me manage my finances. I felt weird at first about giving commands to an empty room, but I quickly learned to love the hands-free, immediate feedback Alexa provides.

The Echo, Apple’s new HomePod, and Google Home all serve as central hubs for your newly connected home. If you’re still uncertain about smart home tech (or if you want to feel like you’re actually living in Smart House) I highly recommend starting off with one of these gadgets.

I Actually Started to Feel Safer (and Got Accustomed to the Convenience Quickly)

One key reason that people enter the smart house game is for improved home security. It’s possible to go big with wireless cameras, motion sensors, doorbells, smoke alarms and more, but I started with a smart lock after seeing the technology at a few Airbnb stays. You’ve probably used keypad entry locks, but did you know that you can now open your lock with your Bluetooth-enabled smartphone simply by approaching the door or with a single fingerprint? Yes, James Bond, it’s true!

I definitely feel safer living alone after installing a smart lock. The technology is notoriously difficult to “pick,” and there’s no risk of my keys falling into the wrong hands or of forgetting to lock the door when I leave. I can also remotely grant entry to my dog-walker. Finally, I’ve gone a whole month without dropping my groceries, gym bag, purse and lunchbox in a pile on my steps as I search for my keys.

I Slowly Stressed Less About Both Cooking and Cleaning

Adulting is hard work, and I often struggle to find the time to prepare a wholesome meal and deep clean my home. I’ve long known about the magic of slow-cooking, but the Smart Crock-Pot takes it to the next level. I can control the device from my smartphone, which means I can adjust time, temperature, or power if I’m running late for dinner—no more relying on the appliance itself to switch over to warm or turn off.  

Similar to slow cookers, robot vacuums have been on the market for awhile, and now I’m wondering why I didn’t invest sooner. The Roomba is the most recognizable of the bunch, but there’s a wide range of options for cost and functionality—and most can be programmed and scheduled with your smart home hub. Sigh of relief over here as my robot vacuum takes over the burden of this unpleasant chore.

My Dog Got Hooked on the Automation Too

Smart home tech also extends to pets. My dog likes to be fed on a schedule—he knows exactly when dinner is on its way and makes sure to remind me if I’m a minute behind. Like a smart slow cooker, a wifi-enabled smart dog feeder is a lifesaver if I’m working late or have other evening plans. My feeder allows me to set up mealtimes and portion sizes right from my phone. I’ve found that my dog is less likely to whine at my feet for food and treats because he knows to expect it regularly from his feeder. He’s even lost a little bit of extra weight since we started using this gadget, and I feel like a more responsible dog parent.

Disney was remarkably prescient about the future of home automation when it created Smart House. It may have seemed far-fetched back then, but it turns out you actually can live out that childhood dream of having your house do everything for you! 

Emily Long is a home safety and automation expert for SafeWise. She loves to geek out on new tech gadgets and home improvement projects. When she isn’t writing about smart home tech, she can be found teaching yoga, road tripping or hiking in the mountains.

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