What Is the Ideal House Temperature in Winter?

Man adjusting the thermostat temperature

When your house gets chilly during the winter, it’s tempting to crank up the heat and raise the room temperature. It’s comforting for the moment—but maybe less so when you receive your energy bill. Ouch! Those high heating bills might make you wonder if your family could live comfortably at a lower temperature.

So, what is the ideal temperature for your home in winter? Read on—we’ve done some research to help you find an optimal temperature for your home during winter to balance comfort and affordability.

Average House Temperature in Winter

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, an average indoor temperature of 68 degrees Fahrenheit at home in winter is ideal for comfort and saving energy.

The DOE also says you can save up to 10% on your energy bill by turning your thermostat’s typical setting back by 7 to 10 degrees Fahrenheit for 8 hours a day. You can achieve this saving in the winter by maintaining a temperature of 68 degrees Fahrenheit when you’re home and then setting the thermostat lower while you’re asleep or out of the house.

The best way to save money on your heating bill is to lower your indoor temperature closer to the outside temperature level whenever possible. It will help slow down heat loss to the surrounding environment.

Lower the Room Temperature During Winter When Sleeping

Woman sleeping

According to the National Sleep Foundation, the ideal sleeping temperature for a comfortable night’s rest is between 60 to 67 degrees Fahrenheit for most adults. Our bodies are programmed to experience a slight drop in core body temperature in the evening as we get ready for sleep, so most people will be comfortable turning the thermostat down at night. It’s also important to note that the recommended humidity level for sleeping is between 30% to 50%.

Lowering your indoor room temperature at night will save you money on your energy bill and help with temperature regulation. It’s a simple but effective way to decrease your home’s energy usage during winter. While you bundle up with warm pajamas, blankets, or comforters, you can give your heating system a break while also improving the quality of your sleep.

However, individuals may have different needs depending upon age and gender. Infants and toddlers will be more comfortable sleeping in a room with an ambient temperature of 68 to 72 degrees Fahrenheit. Their bodies are small and still growing, so they are more sensitive to temperature changes.

Lower the Temperature When You’re Out of the House

Another simple way to save on your energy bill is by lowering the thermostat while away from home, whether during the daytime hours while you’re at work or for a more extended period when you go away on a winter trip.

When you’re not at home, you should set your thermostat between 60 and 65 degrees Fahrenheit in winter. This temperature will conserve as much energy as possible while protecting the house. Just remember to consider your pets, houseplants, and the safety of your home and its belongings. Many modern thermostats are programmable, enabling you to automatically lower the temperature while your family is at work and school during the day and then automatically increase the heat when it’s time for everyone to come home.

If you have pets make sure, they’re at home in a comfortable environment. Dogs and cats require a minimum temperature of 64 degrees.

The ideal temperature for houseplants is usually between 60 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Any temperature outside of this range could kill them.

Frozen pipes are an additional concern and the most common for homeowners in winter. If outdoor temperatures are going to drop below freezing while you’re away, never set your thermostat lower than 55 degrees Fahrenheit. Fifty-five degrees is the absolute minimum temperature to prevent pipes from freezing.

What Temperature Is Too Cold for a House?

The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends maintaining an indoor temperature of at least 18 degrees Celsius (64.4 degrees Fahrenheit) for most healthy adults. However, if your household includes babies, frail individuals, or elderly members, the WHO suggests a minimum temperature of 20 degrees Celsius (68 degrees Fahrenheit).

Colder indoor temperatures can make a home feel uncomfortable and unwelcoming, but even worse, it can also contribute to health problems. Condensation from cooler air may lead to mold forming, which can exacerbate respiratory conditions like asthma and bronchitis. Likewise, a cold indoor temperature setting can increase susceptibility to colds and the flu, contribute to arthritis pain, increase blood pressure, and hinder sleep.

Upgrade Your Thermostat to Save

Nest smart thermostat

While you can manually adjust any thermostat to save money, programmable and smart thermostats can help automate the process.

Programmable thermostats allow you to set a schedule of automatic temperature adjustments during certain times of the day and days of the week. You can also override the settings manually when required.

Smart thermostats take this functionality a step further. They can be programmed on a schedule and be controlled remotely from your smartphone. Some smart thermostats also have motion detection so they can sense whether or not someone’s home and automatically lower the temperature if your house is empty. Some models can also be programmed to adjust the indoor temperature based on weather data. To save on your energy bill, consider upgrading to a smart thermostat, especially if you’re still using an older style manual thermostat.

Position Your Thermostat Correctly

It’s crucial to select the right location for your thermostat to prevent inaccurate temperature readings. First, read over the instructions for installation to prevent “ghost readings,” which can occur when a thermostat may be triggered to run unnecessarily if placed in direct sunlight, near drafts, doorways, skylights, or windows. Be sure to avoid placing furniture in front of or below the thermostat, as it can disrupt airflow and prevent an accurate reading.

The best place to position your thermostat is on an interior wall near the center of your home in an area that experiences natural airflow. It is the same principle for the best place to put a humidifier where the air is moving the most.

Monitor the Humidity Levels

Humidifier running in a kitchen

In the winter, the humidity levels naturally drop as the weather cools. We also crank up our heating systems, which can dry out the indoor air in our homes even further. As the temperature rises without any humidity being added back into the air, relative humidity levels can become uncomfortably low.

A lack of moisture can create dry indoor conditions, which can often lead to several issues such as dry/itchy skin, nosebleeds (learn more here), a scratchy throat, irritated sinuses, and even damage to furniture or woodwork in your home.

We recommend using a hygrometer to monitor your home’s humidity levels to ensure that they stay at the ideal indoor winter humidity range between 30 and 50 percent. If you need to add humidity to your home, consider purchasing a humidifier. A humidifier can quickly reintroduce moisture into the air to help maintain a healthy humidity level.

The Best Ways to Stay Comfortable During Winter and Save Energy

Balancing comfort and efficiency during the winter is a challenge, but it’s possible to keep your family warm while saving energy. Beyond adjusting the thermostat, there are several ways to conserve energy and keep your family comfortable this winter. Below is our summarized list of eight winter energy-saving tips.

1. Upgrade to a smart or programmable thermostat. Purchasing a smart or programmable thermostat can simplify temperature adjustments by automatically lowering the temperature when you’re sleeping or away from home.

2. Let the sunlight in. Take advantage of this natural source of free heat during the daytime by opening up your blinds and curtains and letting in as much sunlight as possible.

3. Close the curtains at night. Unfortunately, windows can also cause heat loss as they are not as insulated as walls. Cover them up with curtains during the night to lessen heat loss, and consider purchasing insulated thermal curtains to maximize their energy efficiency.

4. Close doors and vents in unused rooms. There’s no reason to heat unused spaces. Save energy and money by closing doors and blocking off vents in unused rooms

5. Seal air leaks and drafts. Drafts or air leaks from window and door frames, your attic, or your basement can lower the temperature in your home. Seal up any openings or cracks that let the cold air in with foam insulation, weatherstripping, or caulk.

6. Dress appropriately. Stay warm in and out of the house by bundling up with appropriate warm winter clothes. Pull out your favorite sweaters, long pants, and thick socks to wear around the house. Then invest in some snuggly blankets for keeping warm at night.

7. Use a space heater. If you don’t need to heat the whole home and want to warm up a small area for a short period, try using a space heater. An electric space heater is a simple and energy-efficient heat source for small, closed-off areas.

8. Maintain and consider upgrading your HVAC system. Ensure your HVAC system is working efficiently and providing clean air to your home by routinely inspecting the equipment and cleaning filters. HVAC systems are continually becoming more energy-efficient. Upgrading to a newer, energy-efficient model can provide significant savings over its lifespan.

Final Thoughts

By setting your thermostat to 68 degrees Fahrenheit in winter and by employing some of our energy-saving tips, your wallet and the environment will appreciate the lower energy bill. However, you should set an appropriate temperature to suit your family’s comfort needs by being mindful of the age of the people in your household and any possible medical conditions. Saving energy in the winter is essential. However, your family’s comfort and safety should be a priority.

Published: January 5, 2022

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