Thermostat Special Section

Originally published: 04.01.12 by Jim Hinshaw


Your sales probably didn’t meet expectations this cold season because winter never showed up in most of North America. This may be the time to start your summer maintenance visits, tune-ups, clean and checks, or whatever term you use to describe the twice-yearly visits to the homes you have an agreement with.

In many cases, these visits in and of themselves are break-even. They tend to be 45-to-60-minute calls for around $100; so you should do everything you can to maximize efficiency, such as grouping calls, making sure technicians have supplies and parts that may be needed, etc. I would suggest you do one additional thing.

In every home — no matter how small, large, old, or new — talk up electronic programmable thermostats. The vast majority of U.S. homes have not been updated to the new electronic programmable controls, so each visit is an opportunity to make a sale.

Prepare Your Staff
To take advantage of these opportunities, begin with your employees. See how many of them have electro-programmable controls. Then offer a special package for them, installing the state-of-the-art thermostat at a reduced rate — even if they are renting. Then have a meeting with all employees to discuss features and benefits of these controls, remembering that customers don’t buy features; they buy the benefits those features produce for them.

Start with a question: Who can tell me the benefits of an electro-programmable thermostat? Here are some everyone should know:

  • Energy savings from setback and anti-cycle protection. 
  • The ability to anticipate time to reach set point from set-back, or the ability to override this feature.
  • Filter reminders, which help keep climate systems running smoothly.
  • Auto-changeover, as well as the ability to change the offset around the set points. 
  • Large letters that most everyone can read without reading glasses.
  • No mercury, which is a hazardous material — not something you want to get involved with in the home. 

Make a Plan
Marketing/Promotion: Once everyone is aware of the benefits, get the word out about this “special” opportunity to upgrade thermostats. Start with a name for the campaign, something everyone can reference. Post news about the special on your website and business Facebook page. For example, on Facebook post: Special for this month, $25 off our most popular thermostat! Customer service reps should also ask each calling customer if they have heard of the special; and, include a message about the special in on-hold recordings.

Technicians: Be sure the techs have the product nailed down — what types of stats to use with heat pumps, variable speed furnaces, etc. The last thing you want to do is have an install issue on site. You could also set up the service vans with a few of the thermostats on board to have them ready to be installed on the spot. You could also give techs some coupons to give to customers.


Results: Post the results each day or at least each week: number of homes visited that had old-style mercury thermostats; number of new thermostats sold by each technician, etc. You may want to give an award for selling the most in a week, a month, or another time period. It may be better to do group awards if that makes sense for your workplace culture.

I suggest including a small spiff for each thermostat sold, so set pricing so that you make your margin on these sales, even after discounts. Something along the lines of $10-$20 per stat. Maybe that is shared with the office staff; after all, they will be responsible in setting up the calls in the first place.

Run the promotion for 30 days, post the results, and share the sales numbers with the entire company.

Most consumers don’t know about the valuable benefits that electro-programmable thermostats provide. It shouldn’t be too difficult to make sales using basic education and marketing. The question is, will your company be the one to get those sales, or one of your competitors?

Color-Touch Series From Source 1 Offers Customizable Wallpaper
The Color-Touch Series (CTS) from Source 1 is an affordable high-resolution programmable thermostat. CTS standard features include: up to four heat and two cool stages; gas/electric or heat-pump control; dual fuel capable; simple-as-wanted operation; switchable programmable or non-programmable; choice of English, Spanish, or French; customizable screensaver and wallpaper with a user’s SD card; outdoor sensor ready; programmable fan; and set-point limiting. Users can install up to 100 photos and display them as a slideshow when the thermostat is in screen-saver mode. More than a dozen nature and holiday themes are included, too.

Nest Learning Thermostat Programs Itself, Saves Energy
The Nest Learning Thermostat learns from user behaviors, preferences, and surroundings to create a custom heating-and-cooling schedule, keeping residents comfortable when they’re home and conserving energy when they’re away. Nest will keep refining its schedule over time. Additionally it tracks the temperatures users typically set and guides them to more energy-efficient ones, displaying the green Nest Leaf as a reward when users set the temperature to a more energy-efficient setting. The Auto-Away feature uses sensors to detect when no one is home, lowering the temperature and saving energy. Nest connects to a home’s Wi-Fi so it can be controlled from a laptop, smartphone, or tablet. Buyers can bundle installation service with purchase at nest.com or self-install Nest.

Venstar Add-A-Wire: Five-Wire Thermostats Work With Four Wires
Venstar’s Add-A-Wire thermostat accessory allows for the easy addition of extra wiring to almost any 24-volt thermostat in applications where additional wiring otherwise cannot be added. Add-A-Wire thermostat accessory is easy to install (much easier than running new wires); allows five-wire thermostats to work with only four wires; allows five wires to work like six wires; and allows users to add a second Add-A-Wire thermostat accessory to allow five wires to work like seven wires. It’s compatible with Venstar’s 24-volt commercial and residential thermostats as well as 24-volt thermostats from almost any manufacturer. Add-A-Wire thermostat accessory is compatible with all of Venstar’s 24-volt commercial and residential thermostats.

Aprilaire Home Comfort Control Manages Multiple Systems
The Aprilaire Home Comfort Control is a comprehensive, two-part control system that uses an intuitive, touchscreen user interface that connects to an equipment control module with standard three-wire connection. The Home Comfort Control eliminates the need for separate controls on humidifiers, dehumidifiers, ventilation, and temperature-control systems and can be used with any HVAC system configuration. From an installation standpoint, the system boasts three-wire connection from the living space and an equipment control module designed with access for wiring and mounting that maximizes installation ease and flexibility

Jackson System’s T-21-P Offers Affordable Touchscreen Thermostat
The Comfort System T-21-P is an affordable, feature-rich touchscreen thermostat available exclusively from Jackson Systems. The T-21-P can be battery powered or hardwired, which makes it ideally suited for use in residential or light commercial applications. The T-21-P touchscreen thermostat features a slim profile and large, backlit display.
The T-21-P can be imprinted with your logo free of charge.

Hotels Can Save Energy with Venstar’s GuestStat
GuestStat thermostat can substantially lower energy costs by heating or cooling hotel rooms only when they are occupied. Now available throughout the United States and Canada, GuestStat Model T10051FS features an easy-to-read, continuously lighted electro-luminous display and ultra-simple operation, all in a sleekly styled architectural wall design. Estimated price starts at $60


Jim has been in the HVAC business for several decades, first as a factory representative, then nine years as vice president of sales for a Phoenix-based contractor. He formed his own consulting business in 1999. His website is www.siptraining.com, and he can be reached at jimhinshaw@siptraining.com, or 602-369-8097.


Articles by Jim Hinshaw

Thermostat Special Section

Getting Started on Electro-Programmable Thermostat Sales. Show and teach benefits to your team, and then make a sales plan!
View article.