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Ask Angie’s List: What kind of thermostats can I install?

Ask Angie’s List: What kind of thermostats can I install?

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Home thermostats play a major role in efficiency and comfort.

In recent years, the ubiquitous home thermostat has evolved a great deal, from traditional dials and needles to electronic screens to models that can predict your HVAC needs. While basic models work well for some, more advanced models offer major benefits in terms of both comfort and energy efficiency.

Here’s a rundown of the major types and what you can expect to pay for them.


Mechanical thermostats are the cheapest option, averaging $15 to $30 to install. These old-fashioned devices function entirely by turning a dial left or right to select the temperature. They come with the fewest features. Although mechanical thermostats are common, they are being phased out because they contain mercury.


Non-programmable electronic thermostats cost around $20 to $50 to install. They need to be adjusted manually and have few other features beyond those offered by a mechanical thermostat. However, they usually feature a digital display that can make it easier to select a specific temperature, and have become common in homes in the past few decades.


Until recently, these were the most advanced and expensive option available at $20 to $150. Features include the ability to set heating and cooling options and to program temperatures according to preset weekday, weekend and weeklong programs. Many of these models can have numerous programs set for days at a time. These components help control homeowners’ HVAC costs. They may illuminate for easy access in the dark. And many of the newest models have touch screens.


Installing a smart thermostat can cost $200 to $300. They are significantly more expensive than other options, but the additional features can save energy and money. They can be remotely operated by your mobile device or computer no matter how far away from home you might be. Some high-end devices can learn your preferences and automatically adjust the temperature in your home to suit you. “Learning” devices are best suited for homeowners with a consistent schedule, since that learning curve is defined by your everyday habits.

Most high-end equipment also “communicates” with the heating and cooling systems they are controlling. Wiring for these systems is more advanced, but the added work comes with extra benefits, such as troubleshooting assistance and maintenance warnings.

Electrical work such as thermostat installation should be left to a professional to prevent injury or damage to your home. While it may cost more money upfront, ensuring the job is done right can save you time and money in the long run.

Most electricians can install or replace a home, apartment or business thermostat in two hours or less at a rate of $65 to $85 per hour for a total labor cost of less than $170.

Whether you opt for a modern, digital model or a simple, manual one, the installation costs will not be significantly different. It is still an electrical job, no matter which type you choose.

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