What should I set my thermostat to in the winter?

Searching for the ideal thermostat setting in the winter can lead to comfort battles within your home. Colder weather can bring with it the notion that you need to plan for high energy bills to keep your family warm, but using the recommended thermostat settings can prevent temperature wars and crippling energy costs.

Our tips will help you take steps to lower costs and stay warm without layers of clothing. Read on to discover the best temperature for your heater in the winter.

What temperature should I set my thermostat in the winter?

The best average house temperature in winter is 68 degrees while you’re at home. This temperature gives you a nice balance between comfort and energy efficiency.

While you’re away or sleeping, we recommend lowering your thermostat to around 60 degrees for additional cost savings. According to Energy Star, you can save up to 10% a year in heating costs by lowering thermostat temperatures seven to ten degrees for eight hours a day.

Before you head out for the day or crawl into bed, adjusting your thermostat by a few degrees can support big savings.

Winter thermostat setting

If the very thought of adjusting your thermostat to 68 degrees in winter weather runs a chill down your spine, we have a few ideas. We understand everyone’s temperature preference is different, so start with a gradual decrease.

Gradually lower the temperature

When the first cold snap hits, it can be tempting to crank up the heat regardless of the impact to your energy bill. Go slow. Start with an increase of one to two degrees to see how your body adjusts.

You may be surprised at your comfort level when the thermostat is set between 68 and 70 degrees, even as the weather cools. As you get used to the indoor temperature, begin to scale back the thermostat setting by one degree until you reach 68.

Other ways to keep cozy on a budget

If you’re prepared to make a few adjustments to keep your energy costs in check over the winter months, use these budget-friendly ways to stay warm.

  • Close doors and vents to rooms you aren’t using so it’s easier for your home’s heating system to deliver warmth where it’s actually needed.
  • Seal any cracks around windows or door jambs.
  • Buy a space heater for additional warmth in a specific room. Space heaters can range from $20 to $150 depending on power and size.
  • Dress warmly so you can adjust your style to the temperature of each room.
  • Stock up on extra blankets for your couch and beds as an added layer of comfort.

If you’re following the get-warm recommendations and have 68 degrees as your heat setting for winter, but can’t get comfortable, turn to your thermostat.

Where is your thermostat located?

The location of your thermostat impacts how effectively it can maintain a cozy temperature throughout your home. Even if you know what temperature to keep your house in winter, using our recommended thermostat settings won’t be as beneficial if your thermostat is located in a room that sees very little foot traffic.

The best place for your thermostat is at the center of your home where people are most likely to gather. This thermostat location helps the device gauge and adjust the temperature in relation to a room where you’re actually spending time.

5 areas to avoid placing your thermostat:

  1. Direct sunlight
  2. Above air vents
  3. Kitchens
  4. Hallways
  5. Adjacent to doors or windows

If your thermostat is placed in one of these areas, consider a few energy-saving adjustments. Shade your thermostat from direct sun and the conditioned air coming from your vents. Seal any gaps in your doors and windows that can bring unwanted cold air into the room.

Taking small actions to ensure the thermostat is reading the indoor temperature properly means your heating system will only run when necessary.

Upgrade your thermostat

Even if you don’t find the high-tech features of a programmable thermostat necessary, there’s a major advantage. Installing a device that saves your settings means you’re not constantly asking what temperature to keep your house in winter months.

The cost to have a smart thermostat professionally installed will run you between $112 and $255. That covers the cost of the unit and installation. On average, homeowners pay $175.

A programmable or smart thermostat will allow you to input your temperature schedule. When you’re home, choose 68 degrees. Program the thermostat to lower the temperature while you’re away and asleep to 65 degrees or cooler.

Remember, for max efficiency and savings with any thermostat—basic or smart—avoid adjusting the temperature too often. Try to stick to at least eight-hour intervals for maximum efficiency.

Programmable vs. smart thermostats

Programmable thermostats automatically control the temperature in your home. No matter what type of heating and cooling system you have, you can use a programmable thermostat to automatically adjust the temperature at various times throughout the day. Depending on the model, you can also connect your thermostat to your phone for control anywhere, anytime.

Smart thermostats, while a pricier option, take the guesswork out of maintaining your home’s temperature as they learn your schedule and automatically adjust the thermostat for max efficiency. You can program them remotely with your phone and receive real-time performance alerts to track your energy savings.

Even with the most capable thermostat, routine maintenance on your heating and cooling system is key to reliability. There are a few preventative measures you can take yourself, but scheduling a fall inspection will help prevent the need for an emergency HVAC technician.

Heating system maintenance

If your heating system isn’t well-maintained, the culprit behind your outrageous energy bills could be the very unit producing the heat. To get optimal efficiency from your heating system:

  1. Replace your air filter every 30 to 60 days, or as recommended by your manufacturer.
  2. Keep chairs, tables, and other obstacles away from air vents to ensure warm air can circulate throughout your home.
  3. Trim shrubbery around your outdoor cooling and heating unit so it has space to operate as smoothly as possible.
  4. Schedule preventative home heating maintenance every year before the temperature starts to drop. Preventative maintenance can catch small problems before they grow into expensive repairs.

While we recommend 68 degrees as the average house temperature in winter, choose the setting that’s best for your family. If you opt for a higher indoor temperature, choose one of the money and energy-saving options listed above for supplemental heating.

Your home should be your place of comfort and safety. Choosing the ideal winter thermostat setting means creating a routine that works for your entire family.