Weatherproof your wallet: What is the best setting for your thermostat during the winter?

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Weatherproof your wallet: What is the best setting for your thermostat during the winter?
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There are two kinds of people in this world: Those who set the thermostat to one temperature and leave it alone, and those who turn it on, shut it off, raise it and lower it at their every whim.

During the summer — when you’re rarely home, perhaps — you may be able to get away with some wide variances when it comes to your home’s interior temperature, but in the winter, when it gets frigid and you’re basically stuck inside for long periods of time, heat is everything.

The Department of Energy says that no matter what temperature you like, homeowners can save about 10% a year (up to hundreds of dollars) on their energy bill by dialing the thermostat down 7 to 10 degrees for eight hours a day, usually while you’re at work. People who live in milder climates can save even more.

What temperature should I set my thermostat in the winter?

So what is the recommended setting for the thermostat during the winter? The Energy Department says 68 degrees “while you’re awake and setting it lower while you’re asleep or away from home” is ideal. In general, the smaller the gap between the outside and inside temperature, the lower your energy bill.

That numbers differs slightly from the advice at Directenergy.com, which advises homeowners to set their thermostats to 72 degrees if someone’s home, but ideally at 68 degrees. If nobody’s home, they recommend between 62 and 66 degrees.

Here’s another thing: You’ve may have been told by your heating and air person that it’s best to leave your unit on for most of the day so as to not have it work so hard to heat the home when the temperature drops in the evening.

RELATED: Weatherproof your wallet: How to winterize your car

The Energy Department says this, though: “A common misconception associated with thermostats is that a furnace works harder than normal to warm the space back to a comfortable temperature after the thermostat has been set back, resulting in little or no savings. In fact, as soon as your house drops below its normal temperature, it will lose energy to the surrounding environment more slowly.”

Archna Luthra, consumer analyst at MoneySavingExpert.com concurs with that assessment. “It’s a myth that keeping it on all day is better,” Luthra tells the BBC.

The same principle is at play when it comes to the warmer months.

 4 things that affect the temperature inside your home

  • The location of your thermostat: For optimal performance, a thermostat should be located on a wall not in the path of direct sunlight. It should also not be susceptible to windows, doorways and other areas where drafts are common.  “It should be located where natural room air currents – warm air rising, cool air sinking – occur,” the Department of Energy says. That means anything that can throw its temperature off – including skylights or even furniture – should be removed.
  • Put down rugs and/carpet: There’s a reason why your feet are freezing as you walk around your home. Those hardwood floors are icy cold. Want to warm things up at home? Put a rug down to keep heat from escaping through the floorboards.
  • Drafty doors and windows: One of the main areas where heat escapes a home is through doors and windows. Test for heat loss by using a flashlight. If light shines through the crack in a door or window, you have evidence that you’re losing heat. Time to caulk or seal it.
  • Your AC unit’s filters: You may be one of those people who despises changing the filters on your furnace (I‘m one of those people), but it can save money by reducing the strain on your unit, which gets clogged with debris over time.

No matter what the government or AC manufacturer recommends, the ideal temperature for you is the one that you feel most comfortable with, no matter if it’s 63 degrees or 75 — but if you want to save money, the experts probably know best.  Stay safe and stay warm!

RELATED: 9 easy ways to cut your heating costs

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Craig Johnson is a conscious money-saver who stills read paperback books and listens to vinyl. He likes to write about how technology is making things easier and more affordable — but also sometimes more dangerous — for the modern consumer.
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