The best setting for your home in winter depends on a number of factors, such as the individual preferences of the residents, the ages of the people residing in your home, and the amount of time you spend at home. In short, there is no single temperature that is perfect for everyone.
Ideal Temperature Settings for the Winter Months
You can figure out what temperature works best for you and your family. Start by setting the thermostat at 72 degrees Fahrenheit when you are at home during the day and awake. Lower it by one degree each week until you reach 68 degrees. For most people, this is a comfortable temperature that is neither too hot nor too cold. Don’t forget, you’ll be wearing heavier clothing in the winter months, too, so you may be able to set the temperature a little lower and still be comfortable (and save a little more money on your energy bills).
If you are not already in the habit of lowering the temperature at night, it is a good idea to do that. Lower the temperature at night and when you will be away at work or on vacation. Try lowering the thermostat to 58 degrees. This will provide sufficient heat to keep your plumbing from freezing while also holding your energy bills down. (However, if you have young or infant children, you should keep room temperatures above 65 degrees Fahrenheit, but not higher than 74 degrees.)
According to ENERGY STAR, you can save as much as 10 percent a year in heating costs by turning thermostats back 7-10 degrees Fahrenheit for eight hours a day. For each degree you lower your heat, you can save 3 percent or more on heating costs. Make it easier on yourself by replacing your thermostat with an automated thermostat. Select one that is manually programmable or a “smart” thermostat that will learn your routines and preferences and do it for you.
What If Your Thermostat Is at the Optimal Setting but Your House Is Still Chilly
One way to avoid this from happening is to have your HVAC system professionally inspected and tuned up each fall before the cold months set in. The HVAC technician will clean your system components, inspect them for wear, and make minor repairs before they become major emergencies in the middle of winter. If your thermostat is not operating properly, the technician will detect that and repair or replace it for you.
Even if you keep up with the annual service for your heating system, problems can still arise. Look for some of the telltale signs that a professional repair or replacement is needed:
- There has been no professional inspection in more than a year. This is an easy indicator that your furnace needs professional service. Regular maintenance by a professional is vitally important to keeping repair bills low and ensuring your furnace is operating at optimal performance levels. If a technician has not looked at your heating system in over a year, it is time to call and schedule a service. Ignoring it can lead to premature breakdowns and unnecessary strains on your furnace.
- You have higher than usual utility bills. You can expect your energy bills to increase once you start operating your furnace. However, an increase in your energy bills without a comparable change in the outdoor temperature should not be ignored. Higher bills are often a sign that your furnace is straining to keep up with the demands placed on it.
- The house is cold. There is a problem if you have a cold house even though your thermostat is set at an optimal setting and your heater is running. This is a sign that your furnace could be worn out. The furnace needs to be evaluated for possible replacement. Cool air coming from the furnace is an obvious sign that something is wrong. The problem could be a faulty thermostat, or it could be a more serious problem with the furnace itself.
- The system short-cycles or runs constantly. Short-cycling is when your heating systems turn on and off for short periods. It may be a sign that your heat exchanger is overheating and causing the system to shut down. Short cycling can be a sign that something is seriously wrong with your system. On the other hand, if your heating unit runs without going off for long periods of time, service is warranted.
- You hear unusual noises. If your system is making strange noises, you should turn it off and contact an experienced HVAC contractor for service. A screeching sound can mean the blower has worn out while banging or grinding sounds can mean the unit has broken internal components. But in all cases, your heating system needs repairs or replacement immediately.
- The age of the system. A system that is over 15 years old and that is experiencing these signs probably needs to be replaced. The average life span is 15 to 20 years. The cost of a significant repair to an older system may not be cost-effective when a new one will operate more efficiently and less expensively. Call your HVAC contractor to schedule an evaluation and possible replacement before the season begins. You don’t want to have an emergency breakdown mid-season. A new furnace adds value to your home, and a new energy-efficient system can save you money in the longer term. In any event, a new furnace will provide a safer and healthier home environment.
- You see an unusual amount of dust. Your furnace has an air filter that removes airborne particles, such as dust mites, pet hair, and similar substances. When the filter is dirty, it can no longer capture dust, and those particles instead circulate throughout your home. The air filter needs to be changed regularly. Changing the filter on your heater improves indoor air quality and helps the heating unit function properly. A dirty air filter puts unnecessary wear and tear on the heating unit. A filter that is extremely dirty can cause the system to overheat. Using dirty filters risks doing damage to the heater that is beyond repair.
Contact the HVAC Experts at Presidential Heat and Air for More Information
If you are looking for ways to improve the efficiency of your heating system this winter, talk to the professionals at Presidential Heating and Air. They can answer any of your questions and assist you with replacing your thermostat. Their technicians are available for an in-home evaluation and consultation at your convenience.