When cooler air ushers in, most turn up the thermostat a few degrees. While doing this is an easy way to stay toasty warm, it can also increase heating costs, especially when temps reach blistering cold levels.
We interviewed Justin Bohannon, owner of Affordable Solutions HVAC and Electrical, to learn the best indoor winter temperature for keeping comfortable and reducing heating costs. “The ideal indoor temperature in winter varies, but a general recommendation is to keep it around 68-70°F when at home and awake. Lowering the thermostat by 7-10 degrees for 8 hours a day, perhaps while at work or asleep, can save around 10% a year on heating bills,” says Bohannon.
What’s the Lowest You Can Set Your Thermostat in the Winter?
If you’re keeping temperatures in your house cool to save money, be wary of going too cold. According to Bohannon, the lowest you should set your thermostat is 55°F — anything lower can cause your pipes to freeze and burst. Homes with insufficient insulation may need to be set at an even higher temperature to prevent frozen pipes.
If you want to keep your thermostat on the lower side to conserve energy, try employing these ideas to keep you warm without blasting heat.
1. Address the Drafts
Heated air is lighter than cool air, so when windows or doors are open or have cracks, the heat will float toward the cool air and escape. Cracks in windows also allow cool air to enter the house, making your HVAC system work harder to regulate the temperature.
One of the easiest and least expensive ways to make your home warmers is to deal with drafty windows. We recommend filling in gaps with caulk and applying inexpensive window insulation kits. You can also purchase door draft stoppers or place a rolled-up towel or blanket at the bottom of doors to prevent cold air from seeping in.
2. Dress for the Occasion
You must dress the part to stay comfortable in a moderately heated home. Consider investing in a nice, thick pair of socks or house slippers if you don’t already have any. Wear warm pajamas at night, and dress in long sleeves and pants during the day. Customize your indoor winter wear to suit your personal comfort levels and temperature preferences.
3. Get Cozy with Extra Blankets
Make your bed extra cozy this winter by layering on an extra blanket or two. We like to use a comforter and duvet. When temps drop, we recommend adding a few quilts or fleece blankets under the duvet for extra warmth.
4. Reverse the Ceiling Fans
During cooler months, your ceiling fan should run clockwise at its lowest speed. Running it in this direction pushes hot air trapped in the ceiling downward and brings the cold air from the floor up to the ceiling.
Depending on the season, running your ceiling fan in the right direction can shave as much as 15% off of your heating or cooling bill.
5. Snuggle with a Heated Blanket
Electric blankets use a small fraction of the energy that a heater uses. On frigid days, snuggle up on the couch or your favorite chair with a heated blanket or heating pad. These winter-friendly tools come in handy for long reading sessions or binge-watching weekend TV.
6. Spend More Time Upstairs
Heat rises, so if you have a two-story home, the upper level will feel warmer than the lower level. Take advantage of this by spending more time doing activities upstairs.
7. Cook Your Food in the Oven
There’s a reason why your mom told you not to cook in the oven on hot summer days — doing so heats the house. If you’re stuck inside and need to eat, make dinner on the stovetop or oven.
After cooking and turning the oven off, leave the oven door open so warm air fills the kitchen. (We don’t recommend this hack for households with small children or pets.)
8. Place Rugs (Or Soft Blankets) in Frequent Paths of Travel
Hard floors feel cold to the touch in cooler months, which can bring down your body heat when walking through the house barefoot. Add warmth to your bare floors by layering rugs in high-foot-traffic areas. If you’re strapped for cash or don’t want to deal with rugs, lay down an old, soft blanket instead.
9. Run a Space Heater Where Needed
If your house dips to uncomfortable levels, heat your main living area or bedroom with a space heater. We prefer energy-efficient ceramic or infrared models. Both can deliver warmth at a fraction of the price of a whole-house HVAC system.
You can block off a room to keep the warmth isolated to a particular area. Just ensure the temperatures in the rest of your house don’t fall below 55-60 °F.
10. Know When to Open the Curtains and When to Shut Them
Sun is a natural way to heat the home. During the daytime, open your blinds and curtains so the sun can enter the house and help warm it. Then, at night, shut everything to prevent cold air from seeping in.
(The only caveat is if you have drafty windows. If so, keep blinds and curtains shut at all times to prevent cold air from leaking in. Also, consider addressing the drafts with a cheap window insulation kit.)