The internet is packed with various recommended thermostat settings and guidelines for the best indoor temperatures for each season. With all of that conflicting information out there, it can be difficult to determine the best thermostat settings for winter and summer that will help you lower your electricity bills. The majority of homeowners are more than willing to sacrifice a bit of comfort if they could save money, but they just aren’t sure where to start.
One of the most trusted sources of information about thermostat settings is the US Department of Energy. Their research indicates that you can save as much as 10% annually on your HVAC costs by adjusting your temperature by 7°-10 °F for 8 hours a day from its normal setting.
Are you ready to start saving that much on your home energy bills? We’ve developed some excellent recommendations on the best thermostat settings for all four seasons that you might find very helpful.
Recommended Thermostat Settings for Summer
We recommend setting your thermostat to 78 °F when you are home. While this might make your house a little warmer than you're used to, it does help reduce the cost of your energy bill significantly.
Yes, people want the best possible summer thermostat settings, especially on the hottest days. The challenge is to find the temperature that helps you stay comfortable, save energy, and save money.
Additionally, keeping your house even warmer when you’re away for more than two hours will help you save even more in summer. We encourage you to crank up your thermostat setting for summer to 85-88 °F while you’re out of the house to help you save as much as 10% on cooling costs.
Recommended Thermostat Settings for Winter
In the colder months, a winter thermostat setting of 68 °F should be comfortable for you, your children, and your pets when you are at home and awake. You can then set it lower - say, 63-65 °F - while you sleep to save even more.
To stay warm in the house after setting your temperature to 68 °F, make sure to dress warmly. (It is winter, after all!) By lowering your thermostat by 10-15 °F for eight hours, you can reduce your heating bill by 5-15%, a savings of roughly 1% for each degree.
Recommended Thermostat Settings for Spring and Fall
Keeping your energy bill low during spring and fall with optimal temperatures can be challenging. Because the weather tends to be unpredictable with large temperature swings, you often have to set both an upper and lower limit on your programmable thermostat for heating or air conditioning. In contrast, you only have to set a lower limit for your heater during the winter while you set a higher limit for your AC in summer.
We recommend the following as the best thermostat settings:
- For warmer times, set your thermostat at 78 °F during daytime. Set it to 86 °F if you leave the house.
- For cooler times, set your thermostat to 68 °F while you’re at home and awake. Lower it to 65 °F when you sleep. If you leave the house, lower it further to 60 °F.
The best thermostat settings for spring and fall typically require you to place your thermostat on “Auto” mode and set a desired temperature. You then set the "Deadband" which is the range above and below that temperature where it doesn't run the HVAC.
For example, if you want to cool your house when it’s above 78 °F, and heat it when it’s below 68 °F, you would set the thermostat to 73 °F, and set the deadband to 10 °F.
By adjusting your thermostat properly during fall and spring, it will be easier for you to lower your energy bill.
Recommended Thermostat Settings for Sleeping
Getting a better night's sleep is important for everyone. The benefits are essential to enhancing your life: improved productivity, reduced risk of heart diseases, and improved immune function, just to name a few. Luckily, you can adjust your thermostat to ensure a good night's rest.
Sleep doctors recommend different settings for hot and cold times of the year. The temperature of your home can dramatically impact the quality of your sleep, as your body will wake itself up if it’s too hot or too cold.
Thus, we recommend the following as the best thermostat settings for bedtime:
- 65 °F in winter
- 78 °F in summer
- 65 °F when it’s cool and 78 °F when it’s warm during spring and fall
Just like our earlier recommendations for spring and fall, you need to account for larger temperature shifts during warm and cool days.
With these settings, you save money by not running your HVAC system as much, and you might actually get better sleep as an added bonus.
How to Discover Your Personal Thermostat Settings
As we stated in the intro, everyone has an opinion on the best seasonal thermostat settings for winter, summer, spring, and fall to save energy. For some, the recommended thermostat settings we’ve provided so far are just not going to be comfortable enough for daily living. Thankfully, if you want to save money but don’t want to use these exact recommendations, there is still an easy way to determine your own ideal thermostat settings.
The best approach is to start by setting your thermostat to the temperature you use most often. From there, adjust it towards our recommended seasonal settings one degree each day until it feels truly uncomfortable. Then adjust it back one degree. This will be the new setting that will help you save on your electricity bills while still keeping your house comfortable.
By adjusting your thermostat one degree each day, you give your body time to adjust to the new temperature. You might find that you can actually live with a temperature that’s closer to the energy-saving recommendation, compared to shocking your system if you make a large change all at once.
Adjust the Temperature When You Leave the House
So, now that you’re familiar with our tips for saving money with the best thermostat settings while you’re at home, it’s time to discuss how to save even more money when you’re away from home. For the best results, we recommend the "8 is Great" rule:
Adjust your temperature by 8 degrees when you know you’re leaving the house for at least two hours.
For example, if your thermostat is set at 78 °F while at home during the summer, adjust it to 86 °F before heading out. It sounds easy, but you’ll never benefit from those savings if you don’t remember to make those changes.
This is where a programmable thermostat can help. By automating the process, you can just set the times and temperature settings you want without having to think about it ever again. It’s especially helpful if you leave home for school or work on the same schedule every day. It will ensure that your home returns to your preferred thermostat settings before you get back home for the day.
If you install a smart thermostat with a smartphone app, you can make those off-schedule adjustments with ease. You can simply change the temperature setting from wherever you happen to be if you forgot to adjust your thermostat before leaving home.
If your smart thermostat comes with geo-tracking technology, it automatically recognizes when everyone has left home and adjusts the temperature accordingly. Even more, it will detect when someone is returning home and adjust the settings back so the home is comfortable when they walk in the door.
Use Ceiling Fans to Save Even More
Installing energy-efficient ceiling fans around the house is a great way to use less energy with your summer thermostat settings without sacrificing your comfort. By ensuring that the blades push air down into the room, a fan will make you feel cooler during warm days, as the air flowing across your skin creates a wind-chill effect.
When fans are running, you can then raise your thermostat setting by 3-4 °F with no reduction in comfort. However, that effect only applies when you’re in a room, so you should turn off fans when you leave a room to save even more money.
Fans are also a great option to help your winter thermostat settings. When the blades run in reverse, they take hot air from the top of the room and circulate it down into the rest of the room. This keeps the entire room at a more consistent temperature so you can save as much as 15% on heating costs.
By improving heat distribution, fans lower the need for your heater to run more often to keep your home at the ideal temperature. However, to get the most out of your ceiling fans during winter, don't let them run continuously when you're not in the room.
Heat and Cool Your Home for Less With Solar
By using these recommended thermostat settings, you can lower your heating and cooling costs all year long. However, you can save even more by going solar. When you install solar panels and run your HVAC system off solar power, you can reduce your electricity bills even further while also lowering your carbon footprint.
To find out how much you would save with a home solar panel system, get started with a Free Solar Savings Estimate. When you request more information about rooftop solar for your home, we will put you in touch with a Palmetto solar expert in your area who can review your system design in more detail, and answer any questions that you might have.