The Ideal Thermostat Temperature All Year Long
When winter creeps into the neighborhood one frosty mornings, it is tempting for many of us to turn that thermostat up. Likewise, in the heat of summer, we get the urge to crank it down for relief. This is not only a waste of your energy dollar. Extremes in heating and cooling our homes can have other negative effects on our well-being.
The question of the ideal thermostat temperature is one that has no definitive answer. It is very much a matter of personal preference. Ideal thermostat settings vary with the season, your household’s composition and lifestyle, and whether people are home or out for an extended period of time. Studies show, however, that there is an ideal range of temperatures that most people find meets their needs for comfort, quality of life, and energy efficiency.
Cozy in the winter
In the colder months, optimal comfort can be attained with thermostats set between 68 to 74 degrees F while people are home. This is a temperature range that keeps most people comfortable.
When the house is empty for several hours at a time, and at night while people are sleeping, many people find they can lower the temperature to 58 to 62 degrees F. At this range, water pipes in the home will be kept from freezing if the outside temperatures should drop while no one is home.
If your household includes someone very young, very old, or anyone with health issues, excessive lowering of nighttime temperatures may not be wise. The World Health Organization advises that home temperatures under 64.4 F increase health risks in vulnerable people. Small babies and the elderly are more vulnerable to extremes in temperature. Newborns take time to develop internal heat regulation. As people get older, they can become less able to perceive cold temperatures. If you notice anyone shivering, raise the temp a degree or two. Shivering indicates a fall in the core body temperature which can be dangerous.These family members may need the thermostat set a little higher in winter and a little lower in a heat wave.
The humidity factor
The air is generally drier in cold weather. Evaporation cools the human body when exposed to dry air. Our sense of coldness increases as the humidity decreases. We feel colder in a dry room than in a moist room. A comfortable apparent temperature can be maintained with a thermostat setting of 75° F with 20% relative humidity. The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) suggests a range of 45% to 55% humidity to keep us healthy and comfortable, preventing dry noses and throats that can lead to respiratory ailments.
Breathing dry air can cause such respiratory ailments as asthma, bronchitis, sinusitis, and nosebleeds, or general dehydration. Evaporation can cause skin irritations and itchy eyes. When the air moisture is low, static electricity is what causes our hair to stand on end and gives us those unpleasant shocks when touching certain items in the home.
Keep the air clean and moving: the VENTILATION factor.
Adequate infusions of clean outside air to the home in winter can help reduce the spread of viruses that cause winter colds and flu. Your vents and air exchange system is important for maintaining indoor air quality that keeps us comfortable.
Fans can be helpful in winter and won’t make the room colder; fans do not cool the air but simply move it around. As long as you are not sweating, you won’t feel a chill. Proper use of ceiling fans can also make most of the heat generated by your furnace. Set your ceiling fans on low or medium speed and reverse the spin direction to clockwise during fall and winter. This draws cool air up and blows warm air down to circulate evenly around the room, eliminating hot and cold spots.
Cool comfort in the summer
A suggested thermostat range for summer is 73° F to 78° F. Surveys have shown that most of us are comfortable when the air inside of our home steady 75 degrees F in the hot summer during the day. Raising the temperature on your thermostat a few degrees higher at night and when you are away from home for several hours at a time can save money and still keep you comfortable.
If you find yourself having to put on a sweater indoors during hot summer months, raising the temp a bit could be more practical. Going to extremes can be counterproductive. Your cooling unit may have to work harder to recover a comfortably cool temperature if it has been set too high for too long.
Humidity and ventilation
In warm weather, an excess of humidity may be a problem. If an air conditioner or other types of air cooling system fails to lower the humidity adequately, the air will be cool but will feel uncomfortably damp.
Depending on your climate, ceiling fans and fresh air from open windows with adequate shading from trees or rooflines may provide enough cooling to keep your home comfortable in summer. Apart from air conditioners, there are other options for cooling systems that do not involve refrigerated air. Some help with humidity as well.
Invest in a digital thermostat to make setting and maintaining temperatures effortless. A programmable thermostat makes it possible for you to set your desired temperatures once a season. It is a simple task to set the thermostat so that it lowers and raises the temperatures shortly before everyone gets up, goes to sleep, or leaves the house. This is one of many investments that can add to overall comfort and quality of life. Stop fiddling with the thermostat and enjoy your comfortable, energy efficient home. Read about more benefits of using a programmable thermostat here: Energy Star’s Guide to Energy-Efficient Heating and Cooling.
Energy Saver is the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) consumer resource on saving energy and using renewable energy technologies at home. Read some useful tips for improving your home´s heating and cooling efficiency.
ENTEK also offers a >Home Performance Assessment using science to determine your home’s unique situation and present suggestions and solutions to bring your home back to a homeostatic state of comfort and energy efficiency.