How Much Does Thermostat Replacement Cost?
Your old thermostat may be ratcheting up heating and cooling costs, and a new one could save a bundle. The average thermostat replacement cost is about $175—it can actually pay for itself in a single season.
- Typical Range: $113 to $255
- National Average: $175
A thermostat is a tool most people don’t think about very often until it stops functioning properly. Sometimes a home’s resident becomes aware of the problem when they wake up to see their breath in front of their face or are shocked by a suddenly spiked energy bill. More often, though, house thermostats slowly become less and less accurate over time, and energy bill costs creep gradually up without residents’ realizing that it’s not just the cost of energy that’s going up but the amount they’re consuming. That’s why it’s a good plan to replace thermostats periodically: As new technologies evolve, new types of thermostats offer homeowners easier and more accurate ways to keep a home at a comfortable temperature without spending a bundle.
Fortunately, thermostat prices and the cost of new thermostat installation are lower than one might expect—low enough that many homeowners might be kicking themselves for not replacing theirs sooner. With Angi and HomeAdvisor reporting a typical cost range between $113 and $255 nationally, it’s a small repair job that can save a lot of money in the long run. House thermostat replacement can sometimes be a DIY job for someone who is familiar with the type of wiring involved, but mistakes can be costly, so it’s often a good idea to call in a professional, whose assistance won’t cost much more than the thermostat itself. There are a number of considerations that will affect the total cost of thermostat replacement, so understanding the various components of the cost will help homeowners choose what kind of thermostat to buy and decide whether or not to hire a professional. So how much does it cost to replace thermostats?
Factors in Calculating Thermostat Replacement Cost
The basic elements of thermostat replacement cost are the thermostat itself and the labor cost to install it. There are quite a few different types of thermostats in terms of how they function, and as with all home products, there are some brands that cost more than others, either because of name recognition or because of the guarantees they provide. So the type and brand will affect the cost of the actual unit. Labor is an additional cost, and before anyone skips past that factor thinking “I can just do it myself,” it’s worth noting that some municipalities classify thermostat replacement as a job that requires permitting, because it affects a whole-house system. If that’s the case, it can be much less of a hassle to hire a pro to do the work and get the permit approved than to DIY. For this reason it’s important to look into local regulations before starting the project.
While thermostats used to be simple dials on the wall that a resident could twist to adjust the temperature, the range of options is now much broader. Those basic manual thermometers still exist and are the most budget-friendly options available, but it’s a great idea to replace old thermostat with digital. Electronic thermostats provide digital displays and come in programmable and nonprogrammable versions, along with smart versions that can be integrated into a smart home system. Some thermostats don’t even need to be wired in; they can control the heating and cooling through Wi-Fi. Basic manual thermostats can cost as little as $15, while high-end smart thermostats can run as much as $300 or more.
While it’s more important to choose a thermostat that meets the current demand of the home’s heating and cooling systems rather than one known for its brand, it can be easier to tie a new thermostat into an existing system if the new thermostat is the same brand. That said, the properties of the thermostat itself are the most important part of choosing one, so it’s important to read the packaging carefully to choose the one that’s most appropriate. Some name brands cost a bit more than others because they offer different levels of service or warranty, while others have partnered with other companies to combine services (such as Amazon’s Alexa, the Google Assistant, or Apple Home). Rather than making their decision based on a recognizable thermostat brand, homeowners will want to determine which type of thermostat is best for their specific needs, decide which specifications it needs to have, and then read the packaging to select the best, most cost-effective option.
The cost of labor varies regionally and seasonally, so this component of the cost will depend on the location of the home and the time of year the work is being done. It will also depend, to an extent, on whether the thermostat replacement is a planned task or an emergency job during a cold snap or heat wave. Even so, due to the generally low cost for this service, it’s rare that someone would think “They want how much to install a thermostat?” when presented with a job estimate. Electricians usually charge between $65 and $100 an hour, and this job will normally run between 1 and 3 hours depending on the complexity of the thermostat and the installation. In some cases, a qualified handyman can do the installation, which might cost a bit less than a certified electrician.
Additional Costs and Considerations
While the basic decisions—which type to buy and who will install it—may seem straightforward, there are a few other factors to keep in mind when homeowners are preparing for a thermostat replacement project. Making these choices before the project begins can prevent costly changes once the project is underway.
New vs. Replacement
Does the thermostat need to be replaced, or does the system need a completely new thermostat? And what’s the difference? If the existing thermostat is connected to all of the necessary heating and cooling devices and the wiring is up to code and in great shape, the thermostat unit can simply be replaced with a new one. If, on the other hand, a new heating or cooling system has been installed since the original unit was installed, it’s possible that the wiring isn’t sufficient to handle the work that the thermostat needs to do. The residents also may be missing out on control options because the old thermostat doesn’t support those functions. In those cases, a completely new thermostat with new wiring might be necessary. This can add some labor time to the installation, because new wiring will need to be run through the wall. Also, if the HVAC unit was installed by one of the best HVAC companies, owners may choose to work directly with that company rather than hiring another professional, as the original installers will be familiar with the system.
Perhaps the thermostat in the hallway is exactly where that new piece of artwork should go. Or maybe it interrupts the one open wall in the dining room. Some home shows will suggest hanging a canvas print in front of the thermostat, but the thermostat’s job is to sense the temperature and adjust it accordingly, so blocking a room’s air from reaching the sensor isn’t a great plan. As long as a homeowner is replacing the thermostat, they could consider moving it to a more convenient location. This can be a big project or a small one: If there’s enough slack in the wiring, it can be as simple as cutting a new hole in the drywall, installing a junction box, and running the wires there to connect to the new thermostat. If new wiring needs to be run to the new location, the expense will be greater to cover the time and necessary materials. But if the placement of the thermostat has been an irritation for a long time or prevented that big bookcase from moving to that wall, it’s a good investment. Thermostat relocation can cost between $65 and $450.
Occasionally, the wall around or behind the thermostat may require some repairs. This is more likely if the thermostat has been relocated, in which case the drywall at the old site will need patching, sanding, and painting. In other cases, the new, compact thermostat might be smaller than the older, clunkier model, so repairs could consist of matching a trim piece or patching and painting just a bit to cover the area the new unit leaves visible.
If the HVAC system is capable of multi-zone coverage but the existing thermostats aren’t located appropriately for those zones, this may be an opportunity to add more units to take full advantage of the programming options a multi-zone system offers. The cost of adding units will be similar to the cost of adding a new individual unit, with some additional labor time, as the wiring for the new units is tied into the multi-zone system.
Upgrading to a smart thermostat? This could be a good time to consider planning a smart home system. Choosing accessories and apps to manage a smart home system during the installation will make it easier to gradually add components of a smart home system that are compatible, rather than trying to compile a bunch of different systems together later. Amazon Alexa, the Google Assistant, Apple Home, and several home security companies offer devices and apps that keep everything in one place.
Appliance Thermostat Replacement
Some appliances, such as water heaters, dishwashers, ovens, and laundry appliances, have internal thermostats that regulate the temperature and protect both the appliances and the safety of the home and its residents. The actual thermostat module isn’t usually very expensive, but often these aren’t DIY installations. The thermostats can be hidden deep within the appliance in areas that should be accessed only by someone who really knows what they’re doing. In those cases, the labor will cost far more than the part—for example, a water heater thermostat replacement can cost between $100 and $300, while the part costs only $20.
Replacement Cost by Type of Thermostat
The type of thermostat is guided by two factors: the type of HVAC system that it will control and the preference of the user. Thermostats can be quite simple or very complicated, capable of actively scheduling multiple zones of heating and cooling at different times of day. The best home thermostat will be different for each homeowner; there’s no need to choose a thermostat that’s more complex than what is needed, although in some cases selecting something more than the basic option can make heating and cooling a home much easier and more efficient.
These thermostats are the old-fashioned kind: A dial or lever is manually adjusted to point to a number on a dial to select the desired temperature. They’re simple, they don’t have a lot of parts to break, and they last for a long time. Some homes have just one manual thermostat to control the heat and cooling for the entire home, while others might have one upstairs and one downstairs. While these are straightforward and many people like them because they’re easy to use, they are gradually being phased out. As they’re not electronic, the air temperature is measured by a physical mercury thermometer. Because mercury is toxic, those thermostats aren’t in wide use anymore as the industry is moving toward electronic measures, but many people swear by the mercury thermometer and will purchase them when given the option. Manual thermostats run between $15 and $35.
Nonprogrammable Electronic Thermostat
Nonprogrammable electronic thermostats are very similar to manual thermostats except that instead of using a bulb of mercury, they use electronic sensors to measure the air temperature so they know when to trigger the heating or cooling system to turn on. In addition, electronic thermostats have a digital display, making it easier to set the temperature to a specific degree. Nonprogrammable thermostats have no extra bells and whistles, but they get the job done without the complication of programming or setting times and planned temperatures. The best nonprogrammable electronic thermostats are fairly affordable, costing between $20 and $50.
Programmable Electronic Thermostat
Costing between $20 and $150 for basic models, but stretching to $350 for internet-connected versions, these thermostats permit users to set the temperature at specific times over the course of a week. For example, users who work outside the home during the week can set their heat to a comfortable 70 degrees in the mornings and evenings on weekdays and all day on the weekend, scheduling the set temperature to drop to 65 while they’re at work during the week. This targeted schedule can significantly reduce heating and cooling costs and reduce wear on the HVAC system by not straining it as it heats or cools when there’s nobody home. Internet-connected models may be easier to program using an app, but the simpler models just require pressing a few buttons while cycling through the week.
Wi-Fi thermostats are a variation of programmable electronic thermostats. They cost between $100 and $350 and connect to the home’s Wi-Fi network. It can be a little tricky to connect them to the network, but once they’re hooked up, they make the initial programming and adjustments much, much easier, even for users who aren’t particularly tech-savvy. So if a homeowner has the air-conditioning set to 80 because they’ve been away for the weekend, then realize they’ll be home early and want to cool the house down before they arrive, they can log on to any internet-connected computer or their smartphone app to quickly adjust the preferred temperature, and it will be pleasantly cool by the time they get home.
Smart thermostats are similar to Wi-Fi thermostats in that they connect through the home’s Wi-Fi system and can be controlled through a smartphone app. However, these thermostats can learn the user’s preferences and will automatically begin shifting the settings. So, as the seasons change, the system may notice that the user is manually adjusting the heat a little higher or lower at a certain time of day and automatically adjust the scheduled setting to accommodate the user. These can cost between $100 and $500; if the user is adding a whole-home smart system, the additional accessories to control lighting, locks, HVAC, and appliances can cost around $1,000 total. However, smart thermostats can save users approximately 10 percent to 15 percent on their energy bills over the course of a year, somewhat offsetting the cost of the more expensive unit.
Do I Need a Thermostat Replacement?
With a healthy thermostat, the heat turns on when it feels cold and turns off once the home has warmed up. The house is generally cool in the warmer weather, except when it’s really hot out and the system has to work a little bit. What are the signs of a bad thermostat that needs to be replaced? There are several. Sometimes it’s a simple need to replace a battery on thermostats that haven’t had a new one in a while, but if the problem is any more complex, it needs attention right away.
A homeowner may notice that the HVAC system clicks on, runs for a moment, then clicks back off. This is called short-cycling, which means the system has sensed that it’s too warm or too cool, switched on, then become confused about the temperature and turned back off. Most thermostats have a cushion around the temperature, so if the user sets the heat for 70, it won’t turn back on until the temperature has dropped to 67 or so. When the unit is short-cycling, it’s not sure when to turn back on, so it might restart at 69—but then it will go back down after reaching 70 a moment later. This is tough on the system and the wiring, and it’s often a sign that someone needs to take a look at the thermostat or replace it. While some people might put this off if the need for air temperature control isn’t immediate, the damage the constant flicking on and off can cause to the HVAC system is significant, and it’s almost certainly less expensive to replace the thermostat than pay the cost of a new furnace. Complete HVAC unit replacement cost can be very high, so if the thermostat is causing this problem, the homeowner will want to call for service promptly.
Users might hear a click when the thermostat signals the system that it’s time to start up but not hear the rush of furnace or air conditioner noise, and the home doesn’t begin to heat or cool. This can sometimes be a simple blown fuse or a wire that’s pulled out of position, or a problem with the HVAC unit itself that simply requires HVAC service cost, but it may also be that the thermostat has ceased to work properly and needs to be repaired.
Inaccurate Temperature Readings
If a home’s residents keep walking past the thermostat thinking “Wow, it’s hot in here” and the temperature reading says it should be much cooler, then it’s possible the thermostat’s sensor has failed and needs to be replaced. Beyond the obvious discomfort an out-of-control thermostat can cause, it’s important to get this checked out promptly, because if the thermostat is too far off, the heat could build up in the system and become dangerous, potentially creating a fire hazard. A good way to check is to pick up a basic indoor/outdoor thermometer and set it near the thermostat. If the readings are different, it’s time to replace the thermostat.
Increased Energy Bills
Most people are frustrated when the first electric bill for summer air-conditioning shows up and is nearly double or when the oil or gas bill reflects high winter heating costs. It seems that energy costs are always rising, so it’s easy to blame inflation instead of a faulty thermostat. Extra energy consumption can be caused by a short-cycling system or by a system that remains off for too long and has to work extra hard to catch up. A new thermostat can balance energy use and, if the replacement is a programmable model, can actually reduce costs significantly by using the system more efficiently.
Constant Temperature Fluctuations
When residents of a home find themselves constantly putting on and then taking off a sweater because the temperature keeps shifting, there’s a problem somewhere—modern HVAC systems are designed to provide reasonably consistent temperatures within a few degrees. If this isn’t the case, the problem could be in the thermostat, or it could indicate a problem with the larger system. It’s probably best in this case to have the whole system evaluated, and sooner rather than later, instead of automatically replacing a thermostat that might be fine.
It’s more common to find a bad thermostat in houses that haven’t changed owners in a while. Most thermostats can be expected to work well for about 10 years. While many will continue to work beyond the 10-year mark, they won’t necessarily work well, and more modern versions will provide more options and more accurate measurements of the temperature. If the thermostat has been in place for a very long time, the wiring is probably old and may need to be replaced as well, so an electrician can help do that safely.
Thermostat Replacement: DIY vs. Hiring a Professional
Changing a manual or nonprogrammable electronic thermostat is a pretty straightforward job: Removing the old thermostat, transferring the wires to the appropriate terminals on the new one, and attaching it to the wall are all that’s really required. A handy homeowner with the right tools and knowledge can probably do it pretty quickly. Installation can be slightly more complicated and requires a little more knowledge, even for homeowners who are confident they know how to install a programmable thermostat.
The difficulty is that, as with all wiring, it’s never certain what the old thermostat is concealing behind its facade. What happens if the old thermostat has three wires and the new one only has two terminals—or vice versa? What happens if the previous homeowner tried their hand at a replacement and the current owner discovers a random live wire taped to the back of the thermostat with tape? It’s one thing for a knowledgeable DIYer to change out a straightforward light switch, but the wires connected to the thermostat are also connected to a whole-house system that includes a furnace and/or a cooling unit. Electrical shorts that result from poor wiring can destroy those expensive units and lead to a huge replacement expense. If a homeowner is handy and wants to open up the existing thermostat to see how things look, that can be OK, but if there’s anything out of the ordinary or the homeowner is unclear about how to proceed, seeking out an opinion from someone licensed in the field will help protect the HVAC units and save a few dollars. In addition, new thermostats or thermostats that need to be moved are best handled by professionals.
How to Save Money on Thermostat Replacement Cost
Replacing a thermostat can be a relatively inexpensive job, but there are ways to save some money along the way.
- Choose a simpler replacement thermostat. There’s no need to choose a Wi-Fi or smart model if it’s not something you’ll use.
- Consider a programmable or multi-zone thermostat. While it might cost a little more at the outset, you’ll likely save enough in the first year to more than cover the difference.
- Shop around. Once you know what type of thermostat you want, price shop in stores and online to find one that fits the budget—but read reviews and make sure it’s from a reputable brand so that you’re not replacing it again in 6 months.
- Avoid moving the thermostat. Place the new thermostat in the same location as the old one, even if it’s not ideal, to save on rewiring costs.
Questions to Ask About Thermostat Replacement
When a homeowner is hiring a professional, the first questions they ask will likely be about the contractor’s experience, licensing, and insurance coverage. After the homeowner is certain the pro is qualified and protected to do this type of work, they can ask specific questions about the replacement itself.
- What type of thermostat would you recommend for my system and home?
- What are the potential costs associated with this replacement?
- What kind of surprises might we expect?
- Are there any additional projects to tackle at the same time?
- Is this the best thermostat for my existing system and why?
- Does your company offer a warranty on their work, and if so, how long is it and what does it cover?
- Do you offer financing?
- What is the best temperature setting in each season to protect the lifespan of my system?
- Are there any tax credits available for installing a smart thermostat?
Many homeowners use their thermostat almost every day of the year, depending on where they live, so it’s important that it suits the system in place and that it’s easy for the home’s residents to use effectively. While there are a lot of choices to make and an overwhelming number of models on the shelves, in the end homeowners will need to choose one that works for their particular situation. These are some of the questions we most often receive about thermostat replacement projects and their answers to help get the process started.
Q. How long should a thermostat last?
In general, thermostats should work effectively for about 10 years. They may technically function for longer, but the efficiency and accuracy will dwindle over time.
Q. How do I reset my thermostat?
The answer to this question depends on the individual model of the thermostat. Among the options are to press a recessed reset button with a paperclip; install the battery backward for a few minutes and then it reinstall correctly; or turn off the circuit breaker that controls the thermostat and then turn it back on. If you can’t find the manual, search online for the model number. Many are available online.
Q. Do electricians install thermostats?
Yes, and most often, they should be installing your thermostat. The risks involved with installing it improperly are too great to leave to chance unless the replacement is a basic changeout and very straightforward.
Q. What causes a home thermostat to fail?
Most often, it’s simply old age—dust and grime can gather in the heat release vents and stick electrostatically to wiring. If the problem seems to be blocked vents, you could try cleaning or replacing the face of the thermostat, as thermostat housing replacement cost isn’t particularly significant. The wiring is usually attached to the back. Other causes can be loose connections, a failing power source or overheating, or a less-than-ideal placement that makes it function less efficiently.
Q. How do I wire my thermostat?
Wiring a thermostat is much more complex than wiring a light switch. You’ll find white, yellow, and green wires, two red wires, a blue common wire (which can also be brown or black), and an orange wire poking out of the wall—maybe. It’s not that it’s terribly difficult to plug those wires into the correct receivers once you’ve threaded them through the back panel of the new thermostat; it’s what to do if the number or color of wires and the number or color of ports don’t line up that can cause the trouble. Hiring a professional is usually the best way to go for this reason.
Q. Is it worth it to replace a thermostat?
The answer is almost always yes. Thermostats aren’t expensive to replace, and a new model will result in more accurate and efficient cooling and heating, an easier interface to use for setting and programming, and likely a more consistent and comfortable temperature in the home. Plus, you’ll save money on energy costs as a result of the more efficient use of the HVAC system.
Sources: Angi, HomeAdvisor