What Temperature to Set a Thermostat in Winter

68 degrees Fahrenheit is the optimal temperature for your house during the winter, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

Elizabeth Rivelli
Elizabeth Rivelli
  • 5+ years writing insurance and personal finance topics

  • Auto, home, health, and life insurance expertise

Elizabeth has extensive insurance industry experience, having written for Insureon, Rate Retriever, and Insurify. She’s also finance and insurance editor for Car and Driver.

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Danny Smith
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Danny Smith
  • Licensed auto and home insurance agent

  • 4+ years in content creation and marketing

As Insurify’s home and pet insurance editor, Danny also specializes in auto insurance. His goal is to help consumers navigate the complex world of insurance buying.

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Updated March 7, 2023 | Reading time: 4 minutes

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You might be tempted to crank the heat during the winter, but the U.S. Department of Energy recommends keeping your home’s temperature around 68 degrees Fahrenheit.[1] Keeping your thermostat at the optimal temperature ensures you can stay safe and warm without increasing your heating bill too much.

Here’s what you should know about properly heating your home during the winter, including ideal indoor temperatures for both day and night, as well as when you’re away for an extended period of time. We’ll also share some tips for reducing your energy bill during the winter.

What temperature should you keep your thermostat set to during the winter?

The recommended indoor temperature for your home during the day in the winter is around 68 degrees Fahrenheit. This temperature should be warm enough to keep your home comfortable during cold weather while keeping your heating costs low.

Your home loses heat more slowly during the winter when the interior temperature is low. If the thermostat is set too high, your home will lose heat much more quickly. When you keep the thermostat set at a lower temperature, your house better retains heat, which saves energy and reduces your heating bill.[1]

Setting your thermostat too high can also put stress on your heating and cooling systems. When the thermostat is set at a high temperature, your furnace has to work harder to heat the cold air it pulls from outside, which can cause the system to overheat and even break down.[2]

Learn More: How to Winterize Your House

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What temperature to set your thermostat at night in winter

Winter nights can get chilly, but setting your thermostat to the ideal temperature can help you avoid high heating bills. Turning your thermostat down by 7 to 10 degrees Fahrenheit for about eight hours a day from its regular setting can help you save up to 10% per year on your heating and cooling bill, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.[1]

So, if you keep your home around the recommended 68 degrees Fahrenheit during the day, consider turning the thermostat down to 60 degrees before you go to sleep. The closer the indoor temperature is to the outside temperature, the more you’ll save on your energy bill.[1]

Read More: How to Prepare for a Winter Storm: A Detailed Checklist

What temperature to set your thermostat when you’re away in winter

If you’re planning to be away from home for an extended period of time in the winter, you should adjust the thermostat before you head out. Keeping the temperature at about 55 degrees Fahrenheit when you’re away will prevent issues like frozen and burst pipes.[3]

Ways to save money on energy costs in the winter

The cost of your heating bill depends on a variety of factors, like the size of your home and the age of your heating system. But even in the coldest climates, you can improve energy efficiency and reduce heating costs during the winter. Here are some ways to save money on your heating bill:

Get a programmable thermostat

Consider buying a programmable thermostat. Programmable thermostats allow you to set a schedule for heating or cooling your home. For example, you can set one temperature for the daytime hours and another for the night. You can also change the temperature temporarily without affecting the preset schedule.[1]

Install window coverings

Your home can lose heat through windows that aren’t properly sealed. In fact, it’s estimated that 30% of a home’s heating energy escapes through windows. To reduce heat loss and cold drafts, you can install special window coverings that trap heat and improve energy savings. Some of the most effective shades for heat retention are insulated cellular shades, window quilts, and thick drapes.[4]

Run your ceiling fans

Turning on your fans in the winter can improve warm air circulation and increase energy efficiency. Run your ceiling fans at a low speed in a clockwise direction. This produces a light updraft that recirculates warm air from near the ceiling.[5]

Check Out: 15 Ways to Lower Your Electricity Bill

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Winter thermostat temperature FAQs

Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about winter thermostat settings.

  • What temperature should you set your thermostat in winter with a baby?

    While babies lose heat much more quickly than adults, you don’t need to set your thermostat to a higher temperature than you normally would during the winter if you have an infant at home.[6] Set the thermostat to a temperature that feels comfortable for you and dress your baby in warm, comfortable clothes.

  • What is the lowest thermostat temperature you should set in the winter?

    In general, you shouldn’t keep your thermostat below 55 degrees Fahrenheit in the winter, especially if you’re going to be away from home for an extended period of time.[3] Setting your thermostat too low could cause your pipes to freeze and burst, leading to water damage.

  • What is the highest thermostat temperature you should set in the winter?

    There’s no recommended highest temperature to keep your home in the winter, but the U.S. Department of Energy recommends keeping your thermostat at roughly 68 degrees Fahrenheit. If you prefer the house warmer, it’s OK to turn up the thermostat a few degrees. Keep in mind that the higher the temperature is, the higher your heating bill will be.

  • What should the humidity be in your house in winter?

  • How long does a thermostat last?

    Most thermostats have a lifespan of about 10 years, but it can vary depending on the type of thermostat. If your energy bills have recently increased without explanation or the temperature is inconsistent throughout your home, it might be time to replace your thermostat.[8] If you have an analog thermostat, consider upgrading to a programmable or smart thermostat.

Sources

  1. U.S. Department of Energy | Energy Saver. "Programmable Thermostats."
  2. State Farm. "Furnace tips for extreme cold."
  3. Bear Valley Water District. "Winterization and Tips To Prevent Water Damage."
  4. U.S. Department of Energy | Energy Saver. "Energy Efficient Window Coverings."
  5. Energy Star. "Ceiling Fan Installation and Usage Tips."
  6. Stanford Medicine | Children's Health. "Keeping Your Baby Warm."
  7. Energy Star. "Dehumidifier Basics."
  8. Jacobs Heating & Air Conditioning. "Why Your Old Thermostat is Probably Ready to Be Replaced."
Elizabeth Rivelli
Elizabeth Rivelli

Elizabeth Rivelli is a freelance writer covering insurance and personal finance. She has extensive knowledge of various insurance lines, including property and casualty, health, and life insurance. Her byline has been featured in dozens of publications, including Investopedia, Forbes, Bankrate, NextAdvisor, and Insurance.com

Danny Smith
Edited byDanny Smith
Photo of an Insurify author
Danny Smith
  • Licensed auto and home insurance agent

  • 4+ years in content creation and marketing

As Insurify’s home and pet insurance editor, Danny also specializes in auto insurance. His goal is to help consumers navigate the complex world of insurance buying.

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