The Most Efficient Thermostat Settings for Winter

Even if you love seeing snow in the winter, you likely don’t love the energy bills that come with keeping your home warm and comfortable. Knowing what to do with your thermostat isn’t easy – set it high, and you’ll be warm and comfortable even in a t-shirt and shorts, but you’ll pay for the pleasure. Set it low, and you’ll save money, but you may find yourself sitting under a big pile of blankets and putting off getting out of your nice warm shower.

So, what’s best if you want to be comfortable, save money on your bills, and make sure you’re making an environmentally conscious decision? Thankfully, with just a little knowledge, you can find a middle ground for your thermostat that feels good to you and your wallet.

How do you program a thermostat for winter?

Controlling your heating system with a thermostat is energy efficient and provides greater temperature accuracy for your home. But it’s worth making sure you know how to program your thermostat, especially in winter, when a seemingly harmless temperature increase can quickly lead to higher bills.

As boring as this may sound, it’s a good idea to read through your thermostat’s manual to see what the manufacturer advises. While they probably won’t advise you on optimum temperature settings, you may discover a more energy-efficient mode that will help you save money without dropping the temperature by much.

To save money, aim to have your temperature set around 68-72 degrees Fahrenheit when you’re at home and awake. This is a comfortable temperature for most with the help of a light sweater. Overnight and when you’re out, around 64 degrees Fahrenheit will keep your home at a good temperature.

Many people turn the heat off entirely when they leave the house, but this can actually increase your risk of dampness and mold on the walls and even burst pipes. These issues can be costly for your home and even a risk to your health if you’re not careful.

In reality, the best thing to do unless you’re going to be gone for a long period (days or weeks) is to keep your home at a near-constant temperature – hence the recommendation of around 64 degrees with an increase to 70 when you’re home. Think of your heating like a car – the harder you press on the gas pedal, the more fuel you’ll use. The best way to save fuel in either scenario is to keep the speed (heat) as consistent as possible.

How low should I set my thermostat in winter?

The chilly weather may tempt you to blast the heat in the wintertime, but those high settings can cost you a lot of money come the end of the month. Generally, you don’t need to go any lower than 62 at any time of day. Doing so may mean that your energy bills drop, but you’re going to be pretty uncomfortable. As we talked about above, keeping your home between 62 – 72 at all times will be the best solution.

In fact, having a period of a lower temperature (about 8 hours) at night when you’re tucked up in bed (or when you’re out at work during the day) could help you reduce your heating bill by as much as 15%. Even if that’s the only thing you change, you could still see your energy bill drop.

Some people believe that setting the temperature lower overworks the furnace; however, the Department of Energy says that this is a myth. In actuality, it requires more energy for the boilers to release quick heat blasts, turning on and off every couple of hours.

Is it cheaper to leave the heating on low?

Generally, yes. You can save 10% each year on heating and cooling your home by turning down your thermostat by 7 -10 degrees from its usual setting. If you can, program your thermostat to keep your home at around 64 degrees with higher periods of 70-72 degrees when you’re awake.

Don’t be tempted to turn it off or down extremely low, with short periods at high temperatures. While this may sound like a good idea, it’s not energy efficient and may drive up your bill.

The average home takes about an hour to warm up from 60 to 70 degrees, which is worth remembering when you adjust your settings. Smart thermostats are another great way to remove the hassle of trying out temperatures to see which feels best. These thermostats automatically calculate the best temperature for your home when you’re out and set the heating to activate just before you return.

If you live in an apartment, row house, condo, or similar, you may be able to get away with setting your heating a little lower, especially if you have neighbors on the other side of the wall who have their heating on warm all the time. The additional heat from the homes surrounding yours can help keep your home warmer, provided you share a wall, roof, or floor with them.

Why should I adjust my thermostat?

Your aim should be to heat your home with relative consistency. For example, choose 64 degrees at night and 68 during the day instead of 64 and 78, which is a much bigger range.

Heat is transferred from high concentration areas to low concentration areas. This means the heat energy needed to maintain the temperature in the hotter region includes the leaked energy. With a higher temperature difference between the two points, the surrounding area's heat loss occurs more quickly.

The same applies to the temperature inside your home. Maintaining this energy leakage can cost you a lot in utility bills.

What are the best thermostat settings in the winter?

According to the Department of Energy, you should aim for a lower interior temperature in winter1. They suggest setting the thermostat at about 68 degrees or lower during the daylight hours when no one is home, then raising it a little when you get home. Keeping your home at a lower temperature slows down heat loss, so if you have your heating on while you sleep, try to keep it at a lower temperature.

Are there any other ways to save energy during the winter months?

Aside from turning your thermostat down and leaving it on for longer hours, there are several other ways to save energy and money. Wearing an extra layer of clothing can increase the temperature you feel by up to 37 degrees. So, putting on a sweater allows you to set the thermostat lower, saving you money on your average heating bill.

Taking quicker showers is another underestimated way to save energy and money. When it’s cold outside, a long, hot shower feels great, but if you’re worried about your energy spending, you may want to cut it short.

Another simple way of saving energy is by closing the curtains. If you live in a house or a first-story apartment, you likely do this anyway as soon as it starts to get dark, but thick, heavy drapes can lock in a surprising amount of heat.

You can also supplement your heating with space heaters or electric blankets; just make sure they are energy efficient, or they may not be worth it.

How can I reduce my carbon footprint in the winter?

Of course, the most efficient way to ensure your energy usage is steady and sustainable is to switch to a utility company that uses renewable energy. Renewable resources’ prices have been declining steadily in recent years, which can often allow utility companies to offer customers one flat price. Renewable energy sources like wind, solar, geothermal, and hydropower also rely on natural resources that will not deplete over time, providing a sustainable energy option.

If you are concerned about your energy usage and would like to switch to a provider who can guarantee clean, predictable energy, we’ve got you covered. At Inspire, we are committed to helping our customers reduce their carbon footprint. We provide clean energy access to our customers, with one flat monthly price for unlimited access.

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