One common debate in households at this time of year revolves around thermostat settings. How low can you go and how much can this save you on heating your home?
While finding a balance between comfort and savings is not easy because every family and home are different, here are general guidelines from the U.S. Department of Energy (USDOE).
You can easily save energy in the winter by setting the thermostat to 68°F while you’re awake and setting it about 8°F lower while you’re asleep or away from home.
Why You Save With A Lower Temperature
According to Energy.gov the lower the interior temperature, the slower the heat loss. So the longer your house remains at the lower temperature, the more energy you save, because your house has lost less energy than it would have at the higher temperature.
The same concept applies to raising your thermostat setting in the summer — a higher temperature inside your home will slow heat gain into your house, saving you energy and money on air conditioning costs.
The Energy Department concludes that you can save as much as 10% a year on heating and cooling by simply turning your thermostat back 7°-10°F for eight hours a day from its normal setting.
Why Going Too Low Causes Problems
When the temperature inside your house drops too low (below 60°F,) the risk for frozen pipes goes up a lot.
Most bathroom and kitchen pipes are not insulated, so they rely on your home heating system to keep them warm. Without adequate exposure to heat, these pipes can freeze and because of this expansion, eventually burst. This can cause severe water and structural damage that could cost thousands of dollars to repair. There are countless stories of people returning from a winter vacation only to find a water pipe had burst and flooded their home.
How To Avoid Frozen Water Pipes
- Leave your thermostat setting no lower than 60° F if you plan to be away from home in winter—keep it higher if temperatures are forecasted to be especially frigid when your home is vacant.
- Keep the main water valve turned off while you’re away
- Have a neighbor or friend check your house when you’re away to head off problems.
- Plug or caulk holes that allow water lines to be exposed to cold outside air.
- Open kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors where water pipes are located, allowing heat to enter.
- Check in and around your home for water lines in colder or unheated areas. Insulate both cold and hot water lines in areas such as your garage, crawl spaces and your attic. Consider a heated cable or electric heat tape if the area remains cold and can’t be easily warmed up.
- If the cold weather is sustained or severe, allow a small trickle of warm and cold water through the faucet.
Smart Thermostats Make It Easier
An easy way to control your temperature settings is to install a smart programmable thermostat, which will help you keep temperatures low while you’re away (or sleeping) and higher while you’re home. Why waste time adjusting your thermostat every day? Plus, you can remotely monitor your home’s temperature anytime, from anywhere from your mobile phone.
If you’re worried that your heating system will not keep you warm enough this winter, please explore current equipment rebate opportunities and then reach out to your heating oil service provider for advice.
Be warm and stay safe this winter!