Recommended Thermostat Temperature Settings for Winter: How to Save on Heating

Photo: CC0 Public Domain / Unsplash - Anthony Tran (L); Dan LeFebvre (R)

Correctly adjust your thermostat temperature to the recommended settings for winter and save on heating costs. In this guide, Utopia will show you how to save energy and reduce your carbon footprint with proper temperature settings for your thermostat. 

Why take the time to give your thermostat temperature a recommended check once in a while?  In the United States, household heating and cooling is estimated to make up 41% of all energy use in homes in 2019. This is in part due to a startling statistic: Despite the fact that more than 40% of households own one, only one in eight American households actually uses a programmed thermostat to adjust home air conditioning temperature throughout the day.

Save Energy when Heating: More than just Thermostat Settings

It’s easy to save energy while heating, keep heating costs down and make proper use of correct thermostat settings. Get started by taking a couple simple steps towards minimizing preventable heat loss at home: Insolate windows and the areas adjacent to heaters or radiators, rush air your room instead of leaving a window cracked and adhere to the recommended thermostat settings for your region and season.

Make slight changes to the temperature settings of your thermostat and you can make quite the dent in your heating bill while saving energy and preventing unnecessary CO2 emissions. These small but pivotal changes can make a world of difference for your wallet as well as for the environment – all while keeping the room temperature just how you like it.

1. Winter Thermostat Settings Paired with Sensible Indoor Heating

Recommended thermostat temperature settings indoor heating saves energy
Although adjustments to your thermostat settings in the winter will make a large difference, you can also save energy at home by taking a couple simple steps towards minimizing heat waste. (Photo: CC0 Public Domain / Unsplash - John Mark Arnold)

Proper thermostat settings for winter will indeed help in the long run, however, the first step towards saving money on monthly heating costs is often much simpler: heat less, or more sensibly at best. Setting the thermostat to 78 degrees in your home in the winter is downright excessive – and (over)heats your home at the expense of the environment.

The cooler you set your thermostat temperature, the more energy you save while heating – as well as money. According the U.S. Department of Energy’s Energy Saver consumer resource portal, Americans can save up to 10% a year on heating and cooling simply by adjusting thermostats back 7-10°F  for 8 hours a day.

  • Although the ideal room temperature is often a matter of preference, optimal room temperature is usually taken to be somewhere around 66-68°F (20°C).
  • It’s okay to let the temperature in the bathroom hover around 71°F, however, many other rooms in the house require far less heat.
  • In the kitchen, the oven and fridge give off their own heat.
  • Bedroom temperatures at a range of 62-64°F are best for sleep. Some of us prefer even less.

Utopia’s tip: Those absolutely freezing at night may be better off with a hot-water bottle than jacking up the thermostat temperature.

Important: Don’t let yourself freeze while trying to save energy! In actuality – believe it or not – we often start to feel cold at home due to the gradual increases in thermostat temperature settings. When it’s frigid cold outside and we set the thermostat temperature higher than normal, our bodies adapt to the higher temperature rather quickly. If we become accustomed to higher temperatures, this prevents us from noticing when a room is overheated –and even when the thermostat temperature is set just right, we still feel cold.

Rooms not in use need little to no heat during the winter. However: Do your best not to let the room temperature drop below below 59°F when outside temperatures are below freezing. Otherwise you run the risk of developing mold. This is particularly relevant for spaces in your home prone to gathering moisture or in cooler rooms.

Too late? You’ll find mold removal techniques here: Removing Mold: An Informative How-to Guide.

2. Know When to Adjust your Thermostat for Winter

recommend thermostat settings for winter
Home heating periods differ among geographic regions. In many parts of the United States, heaters come on around the end of October at the earliest. (Photo: CC0 Public Domain / Unsplash - Wesley Tingey)

Once we enter the cooler months of the year, we often ask ourselves when it actually makes sense to begin heating our homes. In order to heat our homes sensibly and sustainably, everybody should begin thinking about adjusting their thermostat at the middle of fall – and not for the first time in the dead of winter.

  • Typically, heating days start around October and last through until March/April. 2019 has seen a spike in home heating days from late fall into early winter, however projections see general heating to remain below average throughout the winter.
  • In many places throughout the United States, temperatures are mild enough around the end of April so that heating your home is no longer necessary. This is of course dependent on your geographical region and monthly weather patterns.

Approximately in the middle of this 6-7 month span are the colder months of December through February. These see the majority of winter heating days and thermostat temperatures increase across the board.

In order to save energy and reduce monthly heating costs with an effective approach to sustainable temperature control, the following rule of thumb serves best: Begin increasing your thermostat temperature or heating your home later and stop earlier.

3. Winter Home Heating: Adjust Thermostat Temperatures at Night

recommended thermostat temperature at night
Turning back your thermostat at night and closing doors when rooms are not in use will help you save energy during the heating period. (Photo: CC0 Public Domain / Unsplash - Ihor Malytskyi)

In the United States’ total 118.2 million households, 65% use central air conditioning. Of those with a programmable thermostat, two thirds don’t actually program the thermostat to adjust temperatures at various points throughout the day. Heating an empty living room to midday temperatures overnight or leaving the thermostat at its afternoon average temperature adds to heat waste and can take a toll on your monthly heating bill.

  • While nothing speaks against increasing your thermostat to 66-70°F while you’re home in the daytime, don’t hesitate to drop the thermostat temperature lower at night even in the winter: 66-62°F is best for optimal home heating.
  • Winter thermostat temperatures vary by preference. Find yours and stick to it by either programming your thermostat or manually adjusting it before bed.
  • To save energy, make sure to close all doors to unused rooms whenever you’re away or at night. This makes it easier for your home’s furnace or heating system to heat only the necessary areas of your house.

Nowadays, in addition to programmable thermostats, there are a number of smart thermostats available on the market. Primarily available in the form of Wi-Fi enabled devices, these automatically adjust thermostat temperature settings in your home. Smart thermostats are also often accompanied by incentives varying by region and energy provider. Consider this worthy and sustainable switch to a green home heating management system.

4. Save Energy during the Heating Period: Open Windows Briefly

recommended thermostat temperature proper ventilation inrush air
A couple of minutes a couple of times a day is just enough to keep humidity levels and air quality where they should be. (Photo: CC0 Public Domain / Unsplash - John-Mark Smith)

Saving energy at home during the heating period doesn’t just involve regular thermostat temperature adjustments during the winter but also proper ventilation. Leaving windows cracked for longer periods of time hardly helps in letting new air in – it usually only cools down the walls. Inrush airing your home or apartment saves loads of energy and is also good for your health.

When humidity levels are too low indoors, the body’s mucus membranes begin to dry out. This opens the door to a range of common winter aches such as dry nose and throat, dry skin and an increased risk of catching a cold. When humidity levels are too high, this provides perfection breeding conditions for mold. Opening your window completely a couple times a day for a couple minutes will ensure a proper exchange of air in winter – just remember to adjust the thermostat temperature beforehand.

Already caught a cold? Here are 6 effective natural home remedies for colds.

5. Efficient Thermostat Settings and Proper Insulation

Proper home heat insulation thermostat temperature settings
Alongside thermostat settings for winter, proper insulation is key to keeping your house energy efficient throughout the colder months. (Photo: CC0 Public Domain / Unsplash - Charles)

Proper adjustments to your thermostat settings in winter have little effect on overall energy use if windows and doors aren’t properly sealed. Proper insulation of your entire building envelope – the part of the house connected to the outdoors – will reduce the overall amount of wasted heat your home produces and save you money.

Many act on insulation based on the false assumption that heat rises and work first to insulate the attic. Although this first step is rather important in properly insulating your home, heat indeed moves in all directions and can be lost just as well through air leakage around door and window frames.

Throughout the United States, building codes have become a lot stricter over the years. Nonetheless, a good many homes are still not properly insulated to fit regional standards. Have a read over at the United States Department of Energy’s guide on insulation to determine where insulation is most effective and how to achieve the best results.

Recommended thermostat settings are only useful if your home is equipped to retain the heat it produces in order to maintain a consistent indoor temperature.

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This article was translated from German to English by Evan Binford. You can view the original here: Richtig heizen: die 15 besten Tipps zum Energiesparen.

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