ideal thermostat setting

Is 68 Degrees The Ideal Winter Thermostat Temperature?

Oh, the weather outside is frightful, but the fire is so delightful…today’s blog may be settling a bet for some of you out there who regularly debate your spouses or housemates about the “right” temperature for your thermostat during these bone-chilling winter months. There are two things to consider before you program your thermostat – your budget and your comfort level.

First, let’s consider your budget.

The Department of Energy states that you can save up to 10% per year on your energy bill by turning your thermostat back seven to 10 degrees from its normal setting for eight hours a day. Most people do this while sleeping (many of us actually like to breathe in cool air when we sleep) and while away from home for extended periods, such as work, shopping trips or vacations. From a budgetary standpoint, The DoE recommends setting your thermostat to 68 degrees Fahrenheit.

The caveat to this budgetary advice lies in the type of heating you have. If you have a heat pump a special programmable thermostat is required for optimum savings, this thermostat uses algorithms to minimize the use of backup electric resistance heat. Roscoe Brown offers programmable thermostats, including wifi capability, for all types of central heating systems.

If you have steam heat or radiant floor heating, thermostat setbacks are tricky because there’s a lead time of several hours, making it hard to predict when you should do your adjustment. Some manufacturers are now offering thermostats that gauge your heating system pattern and identify exactly when you should turn on your heating system to achieve the ideal temperature.

Second, let’s consider your comfort.

Your skin surface area-to-mass ratio determines how much heat your body can tolerate. People with heavier builds have a lower skin surface-area-to-mass ratio, so they cannot evaporate heat as easily as thinner people. Body fat absorbs the warmth, so heavier people hold in the heat and can be subject to getting overheated more readily. Other populations who cannot tolerate the heat well include pregnant women, the disabled, those suffering with hypothyroidism, pre-teens and people older than 60. Beyond age 60, the body is not as effective at thermoregulation. This explains why you see so many elderly people wearing sweaters and lap blankets in the summer when everyone else is overheated.

In the late 1950s, the military developed something called the “wet bulb globe temperature index.” Through their testing, they found 77 degrees with normal humidity was the highest temperature for people to exert themselves and be comfortable. Beyond that, heat stroke was a concern. (Makes you rethink that hot yoga class, no?). So in the final analysis, the human body operates best when the air temperature is 70 degrees.

So…should I set my thermostat at 68 or 70 degrees?

That depends. We talked about your budget and your comfort level, but we forgot to mention another factor – your empathy level for your fellow housemates. Do you want to be comfortable, save on your energy bill, or save your relationship with whomever shares your home? In the end, only you have the answer. It depends on your individual circumstance.

If you want to determine if you have the type of system that is safe for you to arbitrarily alter your thermostat, contact a Roscoe Brown technician today at 1-888-MY-ROSCOE.