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What Is the Best Temperature to Set My Thermostat in the Winter?

If you've ever wanted to strike the delicate balance between energy savings and personal comfort, you might be wondering: "Just what is the best temperature to set my thermostat in the winter?" This guide will help you determine where exactly your thermostat needs to be set.

What Affects Indoor Temperature?

cozy living room
When the weather outside is frightful, some people turn up the heat and cozy up inside, while others keep the thermostat way down low and bundle up in blankets. Most of us favor a temperature that falls somewhere in the middle, but regardless of personal preference, there are a variety of factors that can affect the temperature in your home.
  • Draftiness in your home could be leading to heat loss. Doors and windows are common culprits, but heat can also escape through unusual suspects like recessed lighting and outlets. You can check for heat loss with a match. Seal up all your doors and windows and see if the flame blows.
  • Lack of carpeting can cause heat to escape through your floorboards, making your heater work harder than it has to. Wall-to-wall carpeting or the quick addition of area rugs could help.
  • Issues with your thermostat can lead to inaccurate readings and an overworking heater. Try to ensure your reader is in a central location that isn't exposed to direct sunlight or too close to a heat source, as this can prevent the heat from kicking on in colder rooms even when it should. You should also keep the thermostat clean to avoid a buildup of dirt and debris that could affect the reading.
By taking steps to avoid heat loss and secure an accurate thermostat reading, you can be sure that the temperature you set is exactly as you expect.

Optimal Temperature Readings

smart thermostat
The U.S. Department of Energy recommends keeping the temperature set to 68 degrees in the wintertime while you're inside your home, and lowering it even further when you're away during the day as well as when you're sleeping.
  • The optimal indoor heating temperature is 68 degrees while you're home.
  • Lower the temperature by seven to 10 degrees when you leave for the day.
  • Set the temperature to as low as 60 degrees while you're sleeping.
While you might have heard that keeping the heat low when you're not home forces the furnace to "work overtime" to bring the temperature back up, this is largely regarded as a myth by experts.

Energy Savings and Home Automation

According to the Department of Energy, you can save as much as 10 percent each year on heating and cooling by turning the thermostat back seven to 10 degrees from its normal setting for just eight hours a day. Yet while the energy and cost savings might be worth it, it can still be a hassle to always remember to adjust your thermostat before leaving the house and be forced to return to an environment that's colder than you're comfortable with.
nest thermostat
Home automation allows you to take advantage of the benefits of energy savings, without the inconvenience of constantly needing to manually adjust the thermostat. Consider a smart thermostat from home connectedness brands like Nest or ecobee to start automating the temperature settings in your home.
  • If you leave for work at 7 AM, you can set your smart thermostat to decrease the temperature by 10 degrees at 7:15 a.m. once you're already out the door.
  • You can automate the temperature increase to 68 degrees half an hour before you normally return for the day to avoid coming back to a cold home.
  • So you don't need to adjust the temperature settings before bed, you can set the thermostat to lower the temperature once you're already asleep and raise the temperature before you wake.
  • If you're leaving for an extended vacation, you can create new settings that won't raise the heat at all during the day.
  • If you've forgotten to make a change to your thermostat, most home automation solutions connect to smart devices and can be adjusted from wherever you are at the moment.
By programming set temperatures in advance, you won't need to make adjustments to the thermostat multiple times a day, but can still reap the benefits of cost and energy savings.

What's Right for You?

While there are technically optimal temperature settings for your home during the wintertime, they're not requirements. If you enjoy a very chilly home, or need to keep the temperature warmer while you're home due to medical reasons, remember that personal comfort is an important factor in determining the best temperature to set your thermostat in the winter.