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How Easy Is It to Install and Use a Wireless Thermostat?

Wireless thermostats promise to fine-tune your heating and cooling temps for comfort and savings

This post was sponsored by Honeywell. Written by John Riha

As a home improvement contributor for HouseLogic, I recently received a new thermostat from Honeywell to test. They wanted to know how the thermostat performs, and also if installation is an easy DIY project. Apparently, they figured if I could do it, anyone could.

The timing couldn’t have been better.

The new, wireless Lyric thermostat is going to help us make the most of our newly remodeled home — a four-year odyssey. While we did the typical value-adding renovations, such as creating an open floor plan, we also put a lot of effort into making our home more energy efficient — tightening it up, so to speak.

We doubled down on insulation and made sure to seal all air leaks. We wanted our home to be as cost efficient to operate as possible.

So installing a programmable, wireless thermostat is the cherry on top of our renovation.

Tip: If you’re looking to tighten up your house, don’t overlook your ducts. Some 20% to 30% of air can be lost through gaps and holes.

Tres Chic Automation: Our Lyric Thermostat

The first thing I noticed about the Honeywell Lyric is its ergonomic beauty — smallish, round, and sleek. I didn’t want to install it as much as to cuddle it.

When I unpacked it, I was greeted with a small infographic indicating that, for installation and info on features, I should go online to download an app.

I quickly confirmed I had a compatible wireless router and installed the app on both my iPad and Android phone. With the app fired up, I got clear step-by-step installation instructions.

Installation: An Easy DIY Project

Basically, you remove your old thermostat, reattach your low-voltage wires to the Lyric wiring harness, and mount the device to your wall. It’s a simple, one-hour operation.

Install tip: Before installation, turn off power to your thermostat at the circuit breaker. If you have a digital readout, you can watch to make sure it goes blank. But many thermostats have battery backup; remove the batteries to make sure power is truly off.

Lyric is fully programmable from the app, and you can create all sorts of custom shortcuts that tell the Lyric to raise or lower temps at the tap of a finger. On my first full Lyric day, I was out on an errand and decided to lower my home’s temps. Firing up the app, I turned the thermostat wheel down a few degrees. When I got home, voila! The temps were faithfully lowered.

Lyric can automatically perform that trick for you if you want. By enabling a feature called “geofencing,” the device senses when you and your smartphone have gone a prescribed distance from home — it’s preset to a quarter mile — and temps will automatically be lowered or raised until you re-enter the geofencing zone on your way home.

The Lyric also senses ambient humidity and adjust temps based on overall comfort — a combination of humidity and temperature Honeywell calls “fine tuning” — and not just degrees.

The Promise: Energy Savings

I’m looking forward to getting to know my new thermostat better. It already seems to know me — a proximity sensor makes the displays light up whenever I walk past. Hey there, little fella!

A Lyric website calculator estimates the Lyric will give me annual energy savings of $122, based on my location. I’ll be keeping close tabs on my energy bills, for sure.

Finishing Touches on Energy Savings

Whiz-bang thermostats are great, but you’re not going to get the warm and cozy (or cool and cozy) house of your dreams without some fundamentals. Here’s what else we’ve done during our years of fixing and remodeling:

  • Made sure new windows on the west side of our house had heat-resistant, low-E coatings to cut heat gain in the summer — our most extreme season

  • Bought Energy Star-rated kitchen appliances

  • Added new weather stripping on all exterior doors

  • Installed ceiling fans in the bedrooms for low-cost summer cooling

Believe it or not, we’re not done yet: We’ve got our eye on a bathroom redo next. But, after years of remodeling and lots of DIY labor, we’ve come to the conclusion that we’re home.

John Rihahas written seven books on home improvement and hundreds of articles on home-related topics. He’s been a residential builder, the editorial director of the Black & Decker Home Improvement Library, and the executive editor of Better Homes and Gardens magazine. Follow John on Google+.

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