What Temperature Should a Thermostat Be Set To?

Thermostat-2There are many misconceptions around where you should set your thermostat. When it’s late at night, should it be hot or cool? During the day, should I set it at 68 or 72? There are many factors that are involved, and we’ve done the research to help you out. 

The answer is unfortunately longer than you’d like.  The answer will depend on the time of day, whether you’re home or not, and the temperature outside, for a few different factors.  The most common points will be this:

  • Get a programmable thermostat
  • Set the temperature to be beyond what will set off your unit while away
    • For example, if you’re in a hot climate and usually have a 76 degree home, set it to 86 degrees while away
    • Similarly, if you’re in a cold climate, set it at 10 degrees below your comfort level
  • At night time, make your heating and cooling system work less.
    • If it’s warm out, open a window to allow the cool night air in
    • If it’s cold out, use blankets.
  • Try and adjust in 1 degree increments.
    • If you usually set your thermostat to 73 degrees in the summer, try 74 and see if you can live with it.  Then try 75, and so on.

Try and use your home’s fans more often than your air conditioning.  On the Nest thermostat, you can set your system to automatically use your fan for X minutes every hour, if it hasn’t engaged the heating or cooling system.  This way, not only will it filter the air in your home, but it will also recirculate the air that’s already at the proper temperature.  The more expensive (energy using) part of the system is when the heating and air conditioner are activated.  Don’t, however, always have the fan running.  Most of these units will have a similar power output of a refrigerator if on all of the time, which can lead to major cost spikes.  Using floor and table fans take up a lot less electricity, and can recirculate air around a room, sometimes even making us feel cooler in the warm temperatures.

A common mistake is to wait until a room is too warm to start cooling, or until a room is too cool to start warming.  A few quick adjustments to temperature will be more energy efficient than a long, hard strain.  Cooling a room 1 degree is much quicker than 8 degrees.

Another common mistake is to over-adjust.  If you’re hot, it’s 77 degrees, and you want to cool it to 76 degrees, set your thermostat to 76 degrees, not 74.  Over-setting will NOT cool or heat faster, it will just continue to heat or cool until it reaches the desired outcome.

Also, in warm climates, make sure to have good window dressings, such as blinds or curtains.  When the sun beats in on a window, it will warm up the room very quickly, and will cost significantly more to cool.

For many other thermostat related energy saving tips, head over to the department of energy’s website.

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