Solved! What Temperature Should I Set My Thermostat in Winter?

Save money and energy by setting your thermostat to this ideal temperature.

By Steph Coelho | Updated Oct 21, 2022 11:49 AM

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Woman setting the temperature on a thermostat


Q: My partner and I have an ongoing disagreement about the right temperature setting for the heat during cold months. How can we get the most energy savings? What’s the best thermostat setting for winter?

A: You don’t need a programmable or smart thermostat to save money on your heating bills this winter. By following a few energy-saving strategies, you can make a big difference during the chilly months of winter. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, it’s possible to save 10 percent a year on energy bills by being conservative with thermostat settings year-round.

Keep reading to find out four thermostat-setting strategies to help save money every winter.

Closeup of hand setting a thermostat's temperature


The optimal winter thermostat setting is the lowest comfortable temperature, which is usually 68 degrees Fahrenheit.

According to the Department of Energy, setting your thermostat to the lowest comfortable temperature, which is typically 68 degrees Fahrenheit in the winter, helps slow down heat loss for homes with a regular furnace or baseboard heating system. However, that’s not the case for homes with heat pumps. Dialing down the thermostat too much can make a heat pump less efficient.

Plus, everyone has a different comfort zone. Just because 68 degrees can be an ideal temperature for a house in terms of reducing energy consumption doesn’t mean it’s right for everyone. Some people may prefer to set the thermostat slightly higher, at 70 degrees, and that’s okay.

Place the thermostat in the best spot for energy savings.

It’s essential to install your thermostat in the right location to prevent inaccurate temperature readings. Called ‘ghost readings,’ a thermostat may be triggered to run unnecessarily if placed near drafts, sunlight, and doorways. If air flow near the thermostat is blocked by furniture, it also may not run effectively.

The best place to locate a thermostat is on an interior wall that experiences the natural air flow in the home.

Man in winter coat setting the temperature on a thermostat


Turning the thermostat temperature down by 10 degrees for 8 hours a day can save you money.

Unless you work from home, turning the thermostat down during the workday can mean higher savings on your energy bill. However, if you have pets, set the thermostat to a temperature that will keep them comfortable while you’re gone. For many furry pets, cooler temperatures are a welcome respite. Still, the exact comfort zone will vary depending on the kind of pet and the animal’s size.

Another ideal time to lower the indoor temperature is while you sleep. After all, research suggests that most people sleep poorly in overly warm conditions.

Gradually lower the temperature as your household acclimates to the season.

Your body requires time to adapt to slightly cooler temperatures. So there’s no need to (literally) go cold turkey when cooler outdoor temps arrive. Lower the temperature gradually, so you have time to adjust to being a little chilly. Until you acclimate, wear layers, don warm socks, and have a snuggly blanket on hand.

Maintain the heating system throughout the year, so it runs efficiently.

Regardless of how low you set the thermostat, you won’t save on your heating bill if your furnace or heating system works inefficiently. Make sure to do the following:

  • Get your furnace serviced once a year to make sure it’s in working order. Do this in the fall before winter weather sets in.
  • Check window and door frames for air leaks and seal the leaks you find. If your windows are old, consider an upgrade to energy-efficient ones.
  • Take advantage of natural sunlight. On really sunny days, open the window shades to let the warm light pour in.
  • Install a smart or programmable thermostat. Let it adjust the temperature based on your family’s schedule.
Man changing thermostat temperature on phone


Install a programmable thermostat for automatic temperature adjustments.

Consider investing in a programmable thermostat that’ll automatically adjust the temperature for you. Programmable thermostats are ideal for people with consistent schedules.

If your day-to-day routine is a bit more haphazard than a regular 9 to 5, consider a smart thermostat. Helpful features of some smart thermostats include settings that automatically detect your absence and lower the thermostat temperature while you’re gone. Some units can adjust the indoor temperature based on weather data.