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.
Non-programmable mechanical thermostats
Mechanical thermostats are the lowest-cost option, averaging between $15 and $30 to install. These are your old-fashioned style that function entirely by turning a dial to select the temperature. This will be your least-expensive option, but it also comes with the fewest features. Although mechanical thermostats are very common, they are being phased out of use because they contain mercury.
Non-programmable electronic thermostats
Non-programmable electronic thermostats cost around $20 to $50 to install. They need to be adjusted manually and have very 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.
Programmable electronic thermostats
Until recently, these were the most advanced and expensive option available at a cost of $20 to $150. Features include the ability to set heating and cooling options, and program temperatures according to preset weekday, weekend, and weeklong programs. These components help control homeowners' HVAC costs. They may illuminate for easy access in the dark. Many of the newest models have touch screens.
Installing a smart thermostat can cost between $200 and $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. 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 like troubleshooting assistance and maintenance warnings.
Electrical work such as thermostat installation should be left to a professional. Most electricians can install or replace any thermostat type in two hours or less at a rate of $65 to $85 per hour for a total labor cost of less than $170.