The Best Winter Thermostat Settings
One heated debate that will be happening in Wisconsin homes during the winter months centers around thermostat settings. A common question that comes up is this: how low can I set my thermostat during the winter without causing problems or feeling too cold—and how much can I really save on home heating if I do this? Is it worth it?
While finding a balance between comfort and savings is not easy because every family and home are different, the U.S. Department of Energy says you can easily save energy in the winter by setting the thermostat to 68°F while you’re awake and then moving it about 8°F lower while you’re asleep or away from home.
Why You Save
The lower the interior temperature, the slower the heat loss, according to Energy.gov. 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.
Don’t Set Your Thermostat Too Low
Before you start calculating your potential savings, please keep this in mind. When the temperature inside your house drops too low (below 60°F,) the risk for frozen pipes goes up a lot. So, why do water pipes freeze?
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
- If you plan to be away from home in winter, keep your setting a little higher than 60° F if temperatures are forecasted to be especially frigid when your home is vacant.
- Keep the main water valve turned off while you’re away. If a water pipe breaks, you’ll limit the damage.
- 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.
- On cold days and nights, open the 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.
- If the cold weather is sustained or severe and you’re afraid your pipes are at risk for freezing, allow a small trickle of warm and cold water through the faucet to keep water in the pipes moving.
Use A Programmable Thermostat
An easy way to avoid problems and make your life easier is to upgrade to a smart programmable thermostat, which will help you keep temperatures low while you’re away and higher while you’re home during the winter. This eliminates the task of adjusting your thermostat every day, as you will need to do if you have an old-style manual thermostat. Plus, with a smart thermostat, you can use your smart phone to monitor your home’s temperature anytime, from anywhere.
Read more about smart thermostats.
If you’re worried that your heating system will not keep you warm enough this winter, please explore current heating oil equipment rebates and then reach out to your heating oil service provider for advice.