I CONSIDER MYSELF to be a reasonably skilled do-it-yourselfer. I’ve tackled painting, plumbing and even small electrical projects with the help of YouTube. I figure I’ve saved thousands of dollars over the years by completing various projects myself rather than hiring a professional.
A couple of months ago, our utility provider offered my husband and me a deal on a new “smart” thermostat. The utility would give us the thermostat for free if we agreed to sign up for one of its energy saving programs. After reading the details of the program, we enrolled and awaited the arrival of our new thermostat.
Once it was delivered, I did some research on how to install it. The manufacturer provided a variety of videos and tips. But I became concerned when the manufacturer’s guidelines mentioned that the age and wiring configuration of our existing thermostat could hinder the process of installing the new one. Given that the daytime temperatures in our Arizona community were already approaching 100 degrees, I didn’t like the idea of disabling our air conditioner and then finding out the new thermostat wouldn’t work.
I called a local heating and air conditioning service company and scheduled an appointment. It would be a couple of weeks before a technician could come out, but we were willing to wait. In the meantime, our utility offered us assistance in installing the unit ourselves. At first, the utility sent us a link to a variety of helpful videos. After a few days, the utility upped its offer and agreed to provide phone support during the process. We declined.
Finally, just a few days before we were going to pay to have the thermostat put in, the utility company contacted us again. It would send someone out to install the thermostat for us, free of charge. We went ahead and scheduled the appointment. The technician arrived three days later. Just minutes into the project, he declared there was a complication and that he’d need to get up on our roof to look at our air conditioner. As it turned out, the wiring on our system needed to be slightly modified to get the new thermostat to work.
It took the technician about an hour to complete the work. I was thankful my husband and I hadn’t attempted the project ourselves since it was far more complicated than we expected. In the end, between getting the free thermostat and free installation, we saved about $250. More important, we avoided the aggravation—and lengthy loss of air conditioning—that would have ensued if we’d attempted the process ourselves.