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Guide to Energy-Efficient Thermostat Settings in Winter in the Bay Area

December 21, 2021

It's winter! And that means low temperatures and big heating costs. If you're looking to cut your energy bills this season without compromising comfort, this guide is for you. We’ll discuss how to make sure your the Bay Area home stays warm without costing you an arm and a leg. With these tips, it'll be easy to keep cozy all winter long!

Let’s go over what temperature to set your thermostat in winter:

  • While you’re home during the day.
  • While sleeping at night.
  • While you’re gone.

We’ll also go over how installing a smart thermostat can reduce heating bills, as well as a few of our favorite energy-saving tips for chilly weather.

Our Recommendations for Winter Thermostat Settings

You might be wondering if 70 is a good temperature for the winter. It can be, but it also depends on your comfort level and your goals for energy efficiency. According to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), setting your thermostat at 68 is the smartest way to keep heating costs under control.

What Temperature to Set Your Thermostat in Winter During the Day

While Home

The DOE recommends 68 degrees during the day. If you’re feeling too cold, there are a couple of other ways you can stay warm.

  • Run your ceiling fan in reverse when you’re in a room. This redistributes warm air that collects near the ceiling.
  • Choose energy-efficient window treatments, such as honeycomb shades or plantation shutters. If your home has old or drafty windows, installing plastic sheeting or window blankets provides an extra barrier against the cold.
  • Make the most of natural warmth by opening south-facing window treatments during the day. Don’t forget to close them at night to minimize heat loss.

While Gone

If it dips below 30 degrees, setting your thermostat between 64 and 65 degrees is a smart choice while away. Your furnace won’t be pumping a lot of heat into an empty home, but it’ll be easy for the temperature to recover when you get back.

You may want to set the thermostat slightly higher if you have a dog, particularly a puppy, senior dog, small dog or a dog with short hair. Between 66-67 degrees will keep them cozy and happy.

What Temperature to Set Your Thermostat in Winter at Night

Keeping your bedroom cool can help you sleep better. The National Sleep Foundation recommends a thermostat setting of 64-65 degrees.

That might seem too chilly if you’re used to a higher temperature. If you’re used to sleeping at 68 degrees, try slowly lowering it over the next couple of days and sleep with more blankets or warmer pajamas.

Other Ways to Lower Energy Costs in the Winter

Keeping your thermostat at the right temperature in the winter is a good first step to keeping energy costs down. But there are a few other things you can do to trim your bill.

  • Upgrade your thermostat. Programmable thermostats are inexpensive, but most households don’t have them set up correctly. If yours is constantly on “hold,” you’re missing out on energy savings. While you can program yours, it can be a lengthy process, especially if your schedule fluctuates from day to day. A smart thermostat can get rid of all those steps because it can create an energy-efficient heating schedule based on your routine and temperature preferences. Learn how you can get a free smart thermostat (or one at a greatly reduced cost)!
  • Change your furnace air filter regularly. A dirty air filter can cause a lot of problems for your furnace, including making it use more energy or even causing it to malfunction. That’s why it’s important to replace yours every month if you use a flat filter. Or every three months if you use a pleated filter. If you have pets or someone in your home suffers from allergies or asthma, you may want to change your filter more frequently.
  • Add more insulation. Your home is probably among the 90% in the U.S. that don’t have adequate attic insulation. Homes in northern climates require 16-18", while those in southern climates require 13-14".
  • Install a new furnace. If your HVAC system is nearly 15 years old, it’s time to start thinking about furnace installation. Upgrading to an ENERGY STAR® furnace can keep you more comfortable while keeping heating costs low. A new heating system is a major investment, but Contra Costa Heating & AC helps make it more affordable through rebates, special offers and financing for qualified customers.

Whenever you have concerns about what is the best temperature to set your thermostat at, energy efficiency during cold weather or any other home comfort questions, Contra Costa Heating & AC is here to help you. We’re the heating and cooling company your friends and neighbors have depended on since 1970. Call us at 510-343-9841 to schedule your appointment today.