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What Temperature Should I Set My Thermostat To In Winter?

What Temperature Should I Set My Thermostat To In Winter?

Your thermostat settings can have a huge impact on your utility bills. Learn what settings can save you the most.

Thad Warren
Thad Warren
January 2023
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6 Minutes

Temperatures across the country are dropping to all-time lows in many regions, making a warm and cozy home environment an absolute necessity. However, despite the chilly temperatures, you shouldn’t use your thermostat indiscriminately. This could result in a pricey energy bill that you’re not prepared for. So, naturally, this dilemma leaves many people wondering: what should my thermostat be set to in the winter?

We’re here to answer that question for you so you can find the sweet spot between shivering at home and cringing at your next energy bill

What you need to know about your thermostat settings

Your thermostat has a big impact on how much energy you use in the winter. When it’s cold outside, your thermostat has to work extra hard to battle the outdoor temperature to keep you comfortable indoors. This causes your system to use more energy. 

However, by keeping your thermostat set to an ideal temperature and maintaining your heating systems, you can decrease the amount of energy you’re using. Reducing your energy usage results in environmental benefits and cost savings. It’s easy to save significantly on heating costs by simply lowering your thermostat a few degrees in the winter. 

What should my thermostat be set to in the winter?

The best temperature setting for winter is 68 degrees Fahrenheit.

If you’re away from home at work, you can lower your thermostat at least 7 degrees to further conserve energy and reduce costs. According to Energy.gov, you can save as much as 10% a year by turning your thermostat back 7-10 degrees from its normal setting for 8 hours a day. You can also lower your thermostat by at least 7 degrees at night while you’re sleeping under a warm pile of blankets. 

Electric heating vs. gas heating

Some homes utilize gas furnaces for their heat source, while others use electric heating. What’s the difference? And which is better? Typically, gas heating is more common in colder areas like the Northeast, while regions with warmer weather in the South utilize electric heaters. 

See the table below for an overview of the pros and cons of electric heating vs. gas heating.  

Electric Heating Pros

  • Easier and cheaper to install
  • Longer lifespan of 20-30 years
  • Easy to maintain without professional help
  • Safe, with no risk of carbon monoxide emissions

Electric Heating Cons

  • More expensive to operate
  • Heat is less efficient
  • Slower to heat up

Gas Heating Pros

  • Fast to heat up
  • Lower operating cost
  • Heat is more efficient
  • Ideal for colder climates

Gas Heating Cons

  • Shorter lifespan of 10-20 years
  • Requires carbon monoxide detector
  • More difficult and expensive to install due to requirement of centralized furnace and chimney
  • Requires annual professional maintenance

How to reduce energy costs in the winter

In addition to bumping down your thermostat a few degrees in the winter, there are other things you can do at home to reduce your heating costs. You can always reach for a blanket or extra layers before raising the thermostat. Other ways you can stay warm without turning up the heat include the following: 

  • Maintain your heating and cooling system by regularly changing your air filter, having your furnace inspected, and checking your insulation. 
  • Use a programmable thermostat to schedule different temperature settings at different times of day.  
  • Seal drafty windows and doors to prevent air leaks.
  • Avoid blocking air vents. 
  • Add insulation to your home — especially in the attic. 
  • Avoid placing your thermostat by doors, windows, air vents, direct sunlight, or other heat sources. 
  • Leaving your oven open after cooking
  • Reverse ceiling fans so it turns in a clockwise direction to push warm air that has risen back to the ground. 
  • Wearing thick socks or slippers
  • Layer! Wear sweaters and blankets at home to stay warm. 
  • Make sure you are getting the best rate on your energy bills by using EnergyBot to research costs in your area. 

Be sure to check out our guide of 101 ways you can save electricity for even more energy-efficient ideas. 

Calculating how much you spend on heating per month depends on a few different factors, including the following:

  • Whether you rely on electric or gas heating
  • Size of your home
  • Type of fuel your furnace uses
  • Temperature you set your thermostat to 
  • Efficiency of your heating system
  • How drafty your home is

Best type of thermostat for home heating

There are a few different types of thermostats: manual, programmable, and smart thermostats. A manual thermostat is easy to use and simply requires you to set the desired temperature in your home. Programmable thermostats, on the other hand, allow you to schedule different temperature settings at different times of day. 

For example, you could use a programmable thermostat to automatically lower the winter temperature setting at night — and during the hours your family is away at work and school. This will help maintain a warmer, more comfortable temperature while you’re all at home. 

Smart and wifi-enabled thermostats allow you to control temperature settings from remote devices like your phone, so you’re always in control of the temperature in your home. Smart thermostats learn your habits and adjust the temperature on their own to maximize convenience and energy efficiency. 

Manual thermostats are found in most homes. If you’re home all the time, a manual thermostat can be a good option. However, upgrading to a programmable or smart thermostat can translate into cost savings and increased efficiency. This is an investment that can pay off in the long-run with decreased energy costs. 

Keep your home warm and energy efficient

Now that you know what your thermostat should be set to in the winter, as well as your options for different types of thermostats and heating systems, you can enjoy both comfortable living and comfortable energy bills in the winter. 

To ensure you are receiving the best rates on your energy costs, EnergyBot is here for you year-round. Just enter your zip code in our easy-to-use tool, and you’ll have access to the best energy rates in your area. Get started today