What Temperature Should I Set My Thermostat in the Winter?


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 in your home’s interior temperature. But in the winter, when it gets cold inside and out, heat is everything.

What Temperature Should You Set The Thermostat During Colder Months?

So what is the best setting for the thermostat during the winter?

The U.S. Department of Energy recommends 68 degrees as the ideal temperature to save energy and still be comfortable. The agency adds that you should be mindful of “setting it lower while you’re asleep or away from home.”

In addition, the government agency says that no matter what temperature you like, homeowners can save about 10% a year (up to hundreds of dollars) on their energy bills by dialing the thermostat back 7-10 degrees from its normal setting for eight hours every day.

Here’s Where Clark Sets His Thermostat in the Winter

Money expert Clark Howard says that newer technology helps keep his family comfortable during the colder months of the year. “I have a Nest thermostat so the house is on 68 during the day and 64 at night.”

You may have been told by your heating company that it’s best to leave your HVAC unit on for most of the day so your system doesn’t have to work so hard to heat the home when the temperature drops in the evening.

The Energy Department disagrees. From its website: “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.”

4 Easy Ways to Regulate the Temperature Inside Your Home

Aside from adjusting the thermostat, here are four things you can do to make a difference.

1. Put Your Thermostat in the Right Spot

For optimal performance, a thermostat should be located on a wall that is not in the path of direct sunlight or frequent drafts. “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 should be removed.


2. Lay Down a Rug or Some Carpet

Hardwood floors can be very cold during the winter. If you want a warmer experience for your feet, put a rug down to keep heat from escaping through the floorboards.

3. Seal 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, it’s evidence that you’re losing heat. That means it’s time to caulk or seal it.

4. Switch Out Your Filters

Changing the filters regularly can save you money by reducing the strain on your unit, which gets clogged with debris over time.

Final Thought

Here’s a key fact to keep in mind: The smaller the gap between the outside and inside temperature, the lower your energy bill will likely be.

However, no matter what the U.S. Department of Energy — or Clark — recommends, the ideal temperature for you is the one that helps you feel comfortable.

What temperature do you set your thermostat during the winter? Tell us in the comments below!

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