How Do I Install a Programmable Thermostat?

Programmable thermostat

A programmable thermostat is the next level heating control up from a standard manual thermostat, and allows you to customise the temperature of your home to a desired temperature. The system can be set to pre-determined temperatures and work around a timer or be set to regulate an ambient temperature at all times, and adjusted as and when required.

Programmable Thermostats are now the most popular type of thermostat in the UK. The autonomy of having one installed gives homeowners and tenants improved comfort, increases energy efficiency by not overly-heating rooms when no one’s in them and lowers energy bills.

Smart thermostats are the next level up in technology from programmable thermostats. They work in the same way but can be controlled over WiFi from a smartphone or other device and offer more programs, schedules and even auto-adjustments when the user isn’t present.

Although the UK government seems not to have done any specific research into the impact of smart thermostats, the US Department of Energy note that the installation of one in the home can reduce energy bills by up to 15%.

Installing a programmable thermostat or smart thermostat doesn’t need to be done by a professional and can be handled by a competent DIY’er. If you’d prefer a little extra expert help, seek the advice of a heating engineer, but if you’d like to try it yourself and are seeking info on “how do I install a Programmable Thermostat?” or “can I connect my own smart thermostat to a boiler?”, read on for details!

How to connect a smart thermostat to a boiler

When you purchase a smart thermostat, it should come with full instructions. However, if you can’t find a booklet on how to connect the smart thermostat to a boiler, read on for a step-by-step guide.

Remember: you should never open or interfere with anything internal on your boiler. Any information you find on how to connect a smart thermostat to a boiler that advises tampering unduly with a boiler should be disregarded and the opinion of a professional heating engineer sought. Whilst it is not technically illegal to carry out gas works in your own home (unpaid), it is not safe to do so unless you are a fully qualified and trained heating engineer.

Step-by-step guide to installing a programmable thermostat

Most programmable thermostats and smart thermostats can be installed in the same way, so this step-by-step guide should help lead you along the way.

  1. Turn off the power. Turn off the power source to your HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning) system so that it’s no longer live and is safe to access.
  2. Remove the thermostat already in place. This can be done easily with a screwdriver by removing the outer plate and then the body.
  3. Separate the wires. The wires to go into your new thermostat need to be separated. Tape them to your wall to stop them falling behind it and label the low-voltage wires – you’ll need these in a minute.
  4. Install the new base. Take your new thermostat and remove the base from the front plate, if it’s already attached. Thread those low-voltage wires you separated out through the designed slots. Some smart thermostats are self-levelling, but if yours isn’t, use a spirit level to keep it straight. Mount, and screw onto the wall before connecting the low-voltage wires to the appropriate terminals. If you’re not used to electricals, this may be a little tricky, but your instruction manual should cover it in visual form.
  5. Insert batteries. If your thermostat requires it, insert the batteries into the correct slot and ensure the polarities are aligned. If your thermostat doesn’t need batteries, finish any outstanding wiring.
  6. Mount the new thermostat. Install the control unit to the now secured base, and tighten as necessary.
  7. Turn the power to your HVAC back on. At this point, if you have a WiFi-enabled touchscreen programmable thermostat, the screen should switch on and guide you through the programming. If not, follow the instruction manual to set it up for the first time.
  8. Test. Adjust the temperature and ensure the radiators throughout your home are heating up as you’d expect. If not, follow the troubleshooting pages in the instruction manual, or call your local heating engineer for advice.

And there you have it – your new programmable thermostat or smart thermostat should now be ready to use.. It may be an idea to keep your old thermostat (if it was working) in case of emergencies, but you should be good to go with your new one right away.

Again, if you’re unsure about any element of this, we recommend speaking to an expert electrician or heating engineer. For all things heating and radiators, you can get in touch with the Great Rads team any time for a friendly, no-obligation chat.


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