Winter Thermostat Setting: How Low Can You Go?

By Staff

A couple days ago I performed a highly unscientific poll on the subject of winter thermostat settings. I asked Twitter followers to share their overnight indoor temperature settings and how cold the outside temperatures were in their neck of the woods. My hypothesis was that people are much more frugal about their temperature settings than we are–and I was right!

Based on the responses received the average winter thermostat setting was 63 degrees at night, and the average outside temperature was 31 degrees. Several mentioned that they keep their thermostat on 70, or higher, because they have small kids. We are in that category as well.

A few months ago I installed a programmable thermostat. During winter days, particularly when it is mild (above 50 degrees), we set the thermostat to “Off.” However, at night we have it programmed to warm the house to 72 degrees while we go through bath and bedtime routines.

Once everyone is hunkered down under blankets, we drop the temperature to 68 degrees overnight, before returning it to 72 about half an hour before we wake up and being our morning routine.

As the kids get older I imagine we will drop this temperature down a bit to shave a little more off or our utility bills. Some of the Twitter responses indicated they set their thermostat as low as 55, and one follower even remarked, “We usually knock our thermostat setting down to 40 at night (and low was 17). We get under enough covers that I still manage to get hot!” 40 degrees? Yikes!

Tips For Staying Warm

Properly insulate your home. Besides having proper insulation installed in walls and attics, also check out door sweeps and areas around windows. Hold a lit candle in front of doors and windows on a breezy day. If the flame flickers it is a good indication air is seeping in. Replace weatherstripping and sweeps around doors for a better seal, and caulk around window joints.

Double up on the covers. Seems obvious I know. But many people simply sleep under a bedspread or comforter, rather than a blanket made of heavier material. A quality blanket will help insulate you by trapping body heat and allowing you to drop the inside temperature further.

Gather around the fireplace. In the early evenings a fire in the fireplace can replace the need for central heating, assuming everyone gathers in the same room room.

Dress windows to help keep cold air out. We recently hung curtains in one of our bedrooms and felt a noticeable difference. The room felt less drafty at night, and during the day we pull back the curtains to let sunlight warm the room naturally.

Also check out: 29 more tips for preparing your house for winter