At What Temperature Should I Set My Thermostat in the Winter?

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If you’re like me, when the weather gets cold, the first thing you do is head for the thermostat to turn it up. But what is the ideal setting when the temperature drops outside?

Of course, comfort is a big factor in making this decision, but we at want you to know how much money you have the potential to save by making a small adjustment.

At What Temperature Should You Set the Thermostat During Colder Months?

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

The DOE also says that, no matter what temperature you decide on, you can save about 10% a year (up to hundreds of dollars) on your energy bills by dialing the thermostat back 7-10 degrees from its normal setting for eight hours every day (at night or while you’re at work).

Here’s Where Clark Sets His Thermostat in the Winter

Money expert Clark Howard uses technology to help 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,” Clark says.

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 that can 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. Put 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.

I’ve caulked my windows many times in the winter. Simply cut through the caulk to open the windows again.

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 Thoughts

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.

Use the tips above to save on your energy costs and keep your home at an ideal temperature.

Want more tips? Read our guide on cutting your heating costs.

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