The best temperature for a thermostat in winter – according to HVAC pros

This is the perfect temperature to stay warm and keep your bills low, experts say

A white thermostat on a white wall , beside a sideboard with a grey vase with some dried flowers
(Image credit: JUNG Home)

When trying to heat homes in winter, there is a common belief that setting your thermostat higher means you feel warmer – but that isn’t always the case, experts have revealed. 

In fact, not only does it not make you warmer quicker, but it costs you more than necessary, too, they say. 

So what is the best temperature for a thermostat in winter? HVAC pros say it could be lower than you think to help keep your home warm all day. 

The best temperature for a thermostat in winter  

One of the most common thermostat mistakes is setting it too high. Turning this temperature up may make your home a little warmer, but it is often more expensive than it is worth. For maximum efficiency, you only need to set it to around 68°F (20°C), reveals Anthony Carrino, celebrity home renovator at Trane Residential. 

‘While each home is different (based on the age of the home, the size, and location), this is often considered the best temperature to set your thermostat at during winter to save money at home, while also keeping your home comfortable,’ he explains.

Anthony Carrino
Anthony Carrino

Anthony Carrino has been involved in the real estate development, construction, and design industry for the past 25+ years. He has made over 200 episodes of television for the likes of HGTV, Rachael Ray, The Ellen DeGeneres Show, A&E, and even produced, shot, and starred in his own digital series; TheBuild.tv.

A small orange smart thermostat on a beige wall above a brown sood side boared with red and yellow flowers

(Image credit: Nest)

While this may seem low, 68°F has been proven to strike that careful balance between comfort and energy consumption, continues Andrei Jablokow, home inspector at WIN Home Inspection. Any lower, he says, and the homeowner cuts energy bills but is cold and risks moisture issues such as mold and condensation – even with dehumidifiers. Set your thermostat higher and you may be toasty, but you will be spending exorbitant amounts on bills unnecessarily.  

Andrei Jablokow
Andrei Jablokow, PhD.

Andrei Jablokow is a graduate of the Professional Association of Building Inspectors (PABI)  and has over 145 hours of residential inspection procedures and technical training. He also holds a PhD in mechanical engineering and is a certified property inspector. 

It is worth noting that this is a slightly higher temperature than the temperature to set your thermostat when on winter vacation when you can turn the heat down to maintain your pipes without having to worry about keeping warm.  

How to set your thermostat

someone adjusting a wall mounted thermostat

(Image credit: Getty Images)

How you set your thermostat will depend on the type you have. A standard dial thermostat requires turning until the temperature you require lines up with the markation on the device. A digital thermostat likewise only needs to be adjusted by pressing the up and down arrow buttons on the device. Be sure to consult the manual if there are other settings on your thermostat you are not sure about.

When managing your heating in winter, it helps to have a smart thermostat installed to allow you to monitor your heating and program it to come on when the temperature in your home drops too low. These handy devices also mean you won't have to keep your heating on overnight, helping to make your heating more efficient

‘Having a smart thermostat is a game changer and is something that I recommend to all of my clients, as it will learn your lifestyle patterns and automatically optimize the temperature for maximum efficiency and energy conservation,’ Anthony Carrino, expert home renovator, shares. ‘They can also integrate seamlessly with other smart home appliances, granting you unparalleled control over your living space for greater savings,’ he adds.

Is 64 degrees Fahrenheit too cold for a house?

When heating your home, you want your main living spaces to be at least 64°F/18°c to maintain a healthy living environment. This usually applies to your living rooms and bedrooms where you spend most of your leisure time. Temperatures below this can start to impact your health, leading to deterioration of your well-being as well as your home.

Is it best to leave the heating on low all day?

When trying to heat your home in winter you should avoid leaving it turned on all day, even at a low temperature. While it may help you to maintain a consistent temperature indoors, it wastes energy and drives up your energy bills. You are better off turning your heating up a little higher for a shorter period and draft-proofing your home to keep that heat in once the heating turns off instead.


Of course, it also helps to try methods to keep your home warm without turning up the heat when trying to be smart about your energy usage in winter. Small changes such as draft proofing and using thermal curtains and floor coverings to block heat loss through windows and floors can go a long way in maintaining a consistent temperature in your home for longer.

Chiana Dickson
Writer

Chiana has been at Homes & Gardens for a year, having started her journey in interior journalism as part of the graduate program. She spends most of her time producing content for the Solved section of the website, helping readers get the most out of their homes through clever decluttering, cleaning, and tidying tips – many of which she tests and reviews herself in her home in Lancaster to ensure they will consistently deliver for her readers and dabbles in the latest design trends. She also has a first-class degree in Literature from Lancaster University.