Home Energy Savings | July 18, 2016

Are you in a thermostat war over the ideal home temperature?

When it comes to thermostat temperature settings, people fall into one of two overarching categories: those who set the thermostat at one temperature and leave it there and those who don’t. From there, each side usually has a number of often logical and/or emotional reasons why theirs is the ideal thermostat temperature. And so, the battle of the thermostat begins. Do you engage in thermostat wars? (Flowchart) To help encourage home peace, we’re going to take a look at what some of the experts have to say about recommended thermostat settings. The information might not end the thermostat skirmishes in your home, but at least you’ll be armed with accurate information about thermostat temperature settings. Figuring out the ideal home temperature often started with trying to answer this overarching question: What temperature should my house be?

What temperature should your thermostat be set at?

The answer to this question depends, in large part, on your seasonal needs. The temperature you set your thermostat to in summer needs tweaking during winter months when the weather brings colder temperatures indoor and out. Energy authorities offer recommended thermostat settings for the summer and winter months.

Ideal thermostat temperature

What is the best temperature to set your thermostat to in summer?

For summer, the ideal thermostat temperature is 78 degrees Fahrenheit when you’re at home. Energy.gov suggests setting your air conditioning thermostat to 78 when you are home and raising it or turning it off entirely when you are away. Why cool an empty house? Programmable thermostats can help make this monitoring easy and human error-free. Program them once and walk away! The thermostat can be set to start cooling your home shortly before you arrive so it’s the ideal home temperature when you walk in the door.

Whatever temperature you and your partner decide is the ideal home temperature, do not try to cool your home faster by setting your thermostat at a colder setting than normal when you turn on your air conditioner. Energy.gov says this strategy does not, in fact, cool a home any faster and ultimately can lower the temperature too much and therefore create an unnecessary expense.

What is the best temperature to set your thermostat to in winter?

For winter, the ideal thermostat temperature is 68 degrees Fahrenheit when you’re at home. Energy.gov suggests setting the thermostat at home while you’re awake and lowering it while you’re asleep or away. Lowering your thermostat 10-15 degrees for eight hours can reduce your heating bill by 5-15%. That’s a potential savings of as much as 1% for each degree if the period of the setback is at least eight hours. The Consumer Energy Center says that for each degree you lower your heat in the 60- to 70-degree range, you can save up to 5% on heating costs. In addition to echoing Energy.gov’s 68 degrees as the ideal thermostat setting, the non-profit suggests layering clothing as a way to stay warm in the cooler house temperature.

What is the best temperature setting for sleeping?

One added benefit of maintaining the recommended home temperature? You might sleep better. When you sleep, the set point for your body temperature drops, WebMD says. If it’s too cold or too hot, it throws off your internal temperature, which in turn can make your sleep more fitful. The ideal home temperature for sleeping is generally between 65 and 72 degrees Fahrenheit, with this caveat: Everyone’s body temperature is different and therefore what he or she requires for comfort during the day might change at night. If you live with someone who loves to sleep in Arctic-like temperatures or someone who likes to feel as if she is in the Tropics, well, that’s one thermostat debate we can’t help you win. You’ve learned all about recommended thermostat settings. Get the details on saving energy on lighting, laundry, and showers, too.

Comments ( 4 )

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KevinY - 7/23/2017

It’s been a relatively normal summer here in Southern California. High temps usually between 85-95. However it seems like our a/c just runs and runs more than usual when we put it at 78 or 79. Most days we have to put it at 80 and even 81 during peak heat. This is not just on the hottest days it’s like everyday. The air coming out feels plenty cold so I don’t think anything is broken. Maybe something’s going on with our insulation!?

    Constellation Community Team - 11/20/2017

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    Hi Kevin, we know that in SoCal, summer weather doesn’t end when the season ends! If you’re still dealing with the unchanging temperature in your house, you will probably want to check if you have any air leaks in your house or, as you said, check your insulation. Lucky for you, Constellation has blog posts about each of those DIY projects!
    How to Find Air Leaks in Your Home and Checking Your Wall Insulation. If you’re still dealing with air conditioner problems after checking for air leaks or poor insulation, you might be able to fix your air conditioner yourself! If so, you can check out our How to Fix your Air Conditioner blog to see how.

Diane Holman - 6/14/2017

If setting your thermostat on 78 in the summer will that make your house even hotter

    Constellation Community Team - 7/11/2017

    Hi Diane- Thanks for your comment! Setting your thermostat at 78 in the summer (assuming that you have central AC) should make your house cooler and maintain energy efficiency. If you rely on window units or fans, you’d need to take a different approach though.

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