WRAL SmartShopper

WRAL SmartShopper

Thermostat setting: How low do you go?

Posted October 29, 2012
Updated October 30, 2012


With temperatures expected to be in the thirties every night for the next week, we finally gave in and turned on the heat today. Sad, but true.

We keep the thermostat at 68 for most of the winter months. I'd go lower, but the pets said that it wasn't a good idea and they would revolt if I made it any colder. When Acorn the guinea pig revolts, it's not pretty.

What do you set your thermostat at during the winter months?

What do you do to stay warm that doesn't involve bumping up the heat setting?

Here are some frugal things you can do to stay warm this winter.  Please share any other ideas you have!

1. Set the thermostat at a frugal setting: By setting your thermostat at 66-68 degrees in the colder months and 78-80 degrees in the hotter months, you can easily cut heating and cooling costs. According to the Department of Energy’s “Automatic and Programmable Thermostats Fact Sheet,” setting your thermostat back 10 degrees for eight hours (while you are sleeping, for instance) can save up to 10% off your annual heating bill. If you own a heat pump, though, setting the thermostat at a moderate temperature and keeping it there is usually most cost-efficient. If you are too warm or too cold, adjust your own attire.

2. Make your windows more energy-efficient: An inexpensive way to seal windows against the cold and heat is to install clear sheets of plastic specially designed for sealing. You can also add inexpensive window tint to cut down on the amount of heat coming through windows during the warmer months. A more expensive option is to add permanent storm windows with sliding glass and screens. Finally, you can replace your older windows with double-paned windows that have argon gas between the panes. The argon gas acts as an insulator because it is a poor conductor of heat. Visit your local home improvement center for more information on these energy-efficient ideas.

3. Improve insulation: Improve the insulation of the walls and floors that separate the inside of your house from attics, basements, crawl spaces and outside walls. There are many types of insulation, with varied R-Value (resistance to heat loss) ratings. Check with your local home improvement center for recommendations on how to better insulate your home.

4. Add weatherstripping: Weatherstripping is an easy and fairly simple way to reduce energy bills. Add weatherstripping to all your doors and windows. By preventing outside air from coming in through cracks and leaks you may be able to cut your heating and cooling bill by 20% or more.

5. Use a draft stopper at the bottom of doors.

6. Seal any leaks around pipes under sinks.

7. Replace or clean your furnace filters every month: Keeping the furnace and air conditioner filters unclogged allows your heating and cooling system to operate more efficiently and last longer.

8. Have your HVAC unit serviced annually to make sure the evaporator and condenser coils are clean and that the coolant levels are within the specs for your unit.

9. Use passive solar energy: In the winter, allow sun to heat your house by opening blinds and curtains and trimming trees that shade your windows. At night, close the blinds and curtains to keep the heat in. In the summer, keep shades and blinds closed to keep the warm sunlight out. Use awnings over windows to produce more shade. You should also plant trees to shade the air conditioning unit. A shaded air conditioner will use 10% less energy than one in direct sun.

10. Cooking and heating: Once you finish cooking, leave the oven door cracked to let the heat out into the house.



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  • 3boys3 Nov 4, 2012

    WE keep the heat on 68..I'm cold in nature so this is tough for me..I just wear sweats in the house and thigh high socks. Also, we have all our windows and doors energy efficient...the entire house actually. And I always leave the oven open after cooking..sooo nice:) We installed heaters in each bathroom and I'll turn it on 5 minutes prior to bathing and it makes a big difference. Also, I don't stakc my useage of appliances, especially at peak times, which is different in the summer from the winter. Our energy bills are much mre acceptable this way.

  • pmck Oct 31, 2012

    64 in the winter months. 75 in the summer. Keep a comforter on the couch in the summer months and ceiling fans run in the summer. Curtains open in the day during the winter, closed during the day in the summer - common sense things really. Life's too short to be miserable.

  • meredith88 Oct 30, 2012

    We haven't turned our heat on yet and don't intend to for another month :) We have gone 2 whole months now without heat or A/C and we are loving the lower bill! Our house was built in the 50s and the heating is very inefficient so even with it on it won't raise the temperature more than a couple degrees and it will easily double the power bill.

    Right now our house is 65 degrees. It was 63 the other morning and I still thought it was comfortable. If I'm just sitting on the couch I'll throw on a sweatshirt or grab a blanket but if I'm moving around it is very comfortable.

    We occasionally use a space heater in the bedroom to knock the chill out of the air but still don't let the room get over 68. To help with the heating I always leave the oven door open after baking anything and the kitchen heats right up :) I also hand wash all our dishes in the winter (which I usually do anyways) because the hot water on my hands gets me warm in no time and it makes doing the dishes more enjoyable!

  • jdouglas13 Oct 30, 2012

    We keep it pretty cold. In the summer during the day it is at 68, at night 62. In the winter, the heat rarely gets turned on for very long. If it's really damp or cold during the day, I will turn it on until it hits 65 - 67, and then turn it off. At night, I often have windows cracked and the heat is never on over 58 and that's only when it is under 25 outside.

    I do a lot of baking in the winter, so that helps keep things warmer. I also have the blinds open to take advantage of the heat from the sun.

  • cooper70 Oct 30, 2012

    We use a programmable thermostat - the heat is set to 67 during the day and 62 at night. We also have a gas fireplace in the family room that we use occasionally.

  • Faye Prosser - Smart Shopper Oct 30, 2012

    Great ideas everyone! Thanks for sharing them! I am currently all bundled up to keep warm and intend to stay that way all day!

  • straitlover1965 Oct 30, 2012

    I hang curtains in the archways between the LR/kitchen and the rest of the house, and I keep the thermostat at 65 (or less if I'm moving around) and use a little oil-filled space heater. The curtains keep the heat from the space heater in the LR/kitchen area.

    Basically, a portiere is what it is. I just use a spring rod and a lighter curtain, not velvet. On eis actually a window sheer I had on hand; the other is one of those Eclipse brand curtains I found on a clearance rack. It's just me in the house, so the appearance really doesn't matter. :)

  • cushioncritter Oct 30, 2012

    If you have cathedral ceilings, you need to run ceiling fans in reverse every once in a while to get all the heat that rises up to ceiling back down.

  • cushioncritter Oct 30, 2012

    I saved a couple hundred dollars a year by disconnecting a wire in my heat pump thermostat that made the heat strips "backup heat". When the thermostat thinks the room is not heating up fast enough (like in one minute) it will kick on the backup heat. However, when it's above 35 or so, the heat pump will eventually be able to get things quite warm. Note that you can still operate the strips with the "eheat" setting which is a different wire to the strips. in mild weather I could set 80F and come out cheaper than 68F since the heat pump is now doing all the work.

    In fact, when it is below 35 and moist and the heat pump is trying to defrost without the sun, I just operate in the "eheat" setting and don't make the heat pump try to defrost, since defrosting is done by running AC to make the outside coils hot and masking the 35 degree air at the registers by kicking the strips on full.

    Space heaters are the same efficiency as the strips and heat only part of the house.

  • Kathy S. Oct 30, 2012

    Electric blankets everywhere. Bought some for my living room last year so when we watch tv we can still be warm. It is definitely less expensive then raising the heat. Warm clothing and thick robes/snugglies also.