What Is the Best Temperature for a House in Winter?

Heating the home during winter is crucial to comfy living. Learn what the best temperature is to set your thermostat during the night and day.

What is the average house temperature in winter?

For most people, figuring out the optimal indoor temperature in winter is a balancing act between comfort and keeping heating bills as low as possible. Everyone has their own preference for what is a reasonable temperature for a house in winter, but the consensus from most sources is 68° F. Smart thermostat management means you won’t have to plug in many space heaters, which can be super dangerous—and there’s one spot in your house where you definitely don’t want to plug in space heaters.

Thermostat setting for day and night

Does that mean you should set the thermostat at 68° in the fall and leave it there until spring? There are differing viewpoints on this. For some people, 68° F is too hot for sleeping, so they drop it a few degrees at bedtime. Some say, however, that doing this wastes energy, as it takes less energy to keep a house at a steady temperature than it does to reheat your home after letting it cool to say, 62° F. This depends on other factors, such as insulation, windows, and doors. Definitely one of those things homeowners will want to check in the winter.

Daytime winter thermostat setting

Since constantly adjusting the thermostat uses more energy than picking a temperature and sticking with it, the best temperature is wherever you feel most comfortable. This might be 68° F, or it might be a little warmer or colder.

Nighttime winter thermostat setting

A well-insulated home holds heat longer and loses it slower, making the reheating period much quicker. In that case, I think dropping the temperature at night makes sense. A poorly insulated home with old, drafty doors and windows might be a different story. It’s super easy, with modern thermostats to program different temperatures for different times of the day.

Factors for home heating

If you go with the method of cooling at night and when you’re at work, also consider your floors. Do you have hardwood or tile? If so, it’ll take longer to warm up the floor than it takes to warm up the air. But that’s easily remedied with a warm pair of slippers.

So, the answer to the question “what is a reasonable temperature for a house in winter?” isn’t black and white. Whatever temperature setting you find is comfortable for you and keeps the heating bill reasonable is your answer. But remember, unless you live alone, you’ll likely have to come to a compromise; some household members might just need to bundle up a bit in the chilly months. Agree on how to set the thermostat, then dress accordingly.

Thermostat options

  • Wi-Fi thermostat connects to your home’s wireless Internet service and lets you remotely check and change the temperature in your home from an app on your smartphone or tablet.
  • Smart thermostats have some features in common with Wi-Fi thermostats. Both styles connect to the Internet to be controlled remotely, but smart thermostats can also self-adjust based on a programmed schedule or the daily weather. Some even come with motion sensors to heat the rooms you use most.
  • Programmable thermostats may be controlled remotely or centrally depending on the model. Some require you to program the settings right at the wall thermostat. Others will connect to an app.
  • Traditional thermostats offer fewer special features, but they are the least expensive option. If you don’t need to adjust the temperature remotely or to set up personalized heating and cooling schedules, a traditional thermostat should work just fine.

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Originally Published on The Family Handyman

Brad Holden
Brad Holden, an associate editor at The Family Handyman, has been building cabinets and furniture for 30 years. In that time, he has absorbed so many slivers and ingested so much sawdust that he's practically made of wood.