How warm should my house be?

Some people like to heat their homes to Sahara-like temperatures, while others prefer a more arctic feel, however the majority of us sit somewhere in between. The whole ‘how hot should my house be’ topic is a bit of a contentious issue, so I will take you through some of the key points and try to give you a better idea of the temperature that might be right for your home.

What does the government say about temperature?

A recent government study found that in the UK, the average temperature of a home is 17.7°C, whilst the recommended level is 21°C (70°F). This discrepancy in temperatures has been used to show how fuel poverty was preventing people from heating their homes to a comfortable temperature – it is estimated that 2.5m people are currently living in fuel poverty.

This is really oversimplified though, because some people will need higher temperatures – like the elderly or ill – whilst the average person can get away with having the temperature much lower. It is a little odd for the government to recommend this relatively high temperature when it is trying to reduce energy consumption.

To be honest, the majority of people can live very comfortably at a temperature well below 21°C, so don’t just set the thermostat at this temperature out of habit!

Using a thermostat to set temperature

Many people use a thermostat to set their temperature, but you need to make sure it is set up correctly. A thermostat works by recording the ambient air temperature around it. If the temperature of the air is lower than the thermostat, it will send a message to the boiler to fire up, while if the temperature of the air is higher, it will tell the heating system to switch off.

Therefore, a thermostat positioned right by your draughty front door is going to kick in at a lower temperature than one in your living room. In this case, even though you are setting your thermostat to 21°C by the door, the temperature in the living room might be getting up to 24°C.

As a result, it is really important to know your house and how warm you need it, rather than just setting it at a certain level and forgetting about it. You can negate this by using a wireless thermostat that you can place where you like.

>>> The Most Efficient Way to Use Central Heating <<<

Insulation is just as important as your thermostat

It’s no good setting your thermostat to save energy if you are inefficient to begin with. You can set your thermostat down at 16°C or 17°C to save money, but if you have no insulation and an old inefficient boiler, you are still going to be spending a fortune, since whatever heat you pump into the home to warm it up, will quickly escape through the walls. If you set the thermostat to 25°C in a poorly insulated house, it might not even get that warm, because the rate of heat loss will be just too high. So increasing the amount of insulation in the loft, on the walls and under the floor is key to being able to heat your home effectively. Don’t forget your windows either; even if double glazing seems too expensive, secondary glazing like Ecoease could be the perfect way to reduce heat loss.

Every degree costs you money

Every house will vary, but the generally accepted rule is that for every degree you increase your thermostat, you will be paying an extra £60 a year. This is because your boiler needs to work harder to get the temperature up – if you have electric heating the savings could be even higher.

For larger or more inefficient homes, this can be much higher. So bear that in mind when you go to turn up your heating. If you need to be warmer, put on a jumper, or you could try supplementary heating like an infrared heating panel. This boosts the temperature in a room with instant heat, without having to turn up your thermostat for the whole house.

You shouldn’t be wearing shorts in the winter

It is a bit obvious, but you can keep your thermostat down if you wear warmer clothes. A recent study found that some people set their thermostat to 30°C, whilst many were setting it above 25°C. In a poorly insulated home, this would mean that the heating would just stay on all day, because that temperature will probably never be reached. These people would save hundreds of pounds a year by setting their thermostat to 21°C or below and wearing some thicker clothes.

Different rooms need different temperatures

Using only a thermostat means that you could be overheating other rooms in your home. Heating controls are really important. If you have them, use them. If you don’t have them, get them.

Thermostatic radiator valves (TRVs) let you control the temperature of each room individually. For example, a bedroom can be comfortable at 16°C (as you’ll be under the covers), whereas a living room might need to be warmer. Traditional TRV’s are simple, usually using a dial between 1-5 to set the rate, and you can pick them up for as little as £12.50, but there are also more high spec options. If you want full control of your heating system then smartphone enabled systems will give you the ability to zone out your house and only use the energy you need. This starter pack from tado provides everything you need to get set up with.

Don’t heat your home when you’re not there

It seems simple, but lots of people set their thermostat to 21°C and leave it there, even when they are out at work. Make sure you use your programmer as well, and if you want to control each room while you are out, you can get yourself a remotely controllable tool like a Nest. These gadgets let you control each room’s temperature remotely, even when you are out of the house.

Temperatures have been increasing for years

The average temperature of homes has increased over the decades. Ever since the advent of central heating, people feel like they should be able to walk around their home in a T-shirt in winter, whereas years ago people would wrap up even in their living room. Whilst there are certain situations where the heating needs to be up high (for instance when there is an elderly or unwell person in a room), you can usually wear a jumper and turn the thermostat down. Do we really need to have the heating up 4 degrees warmer than our parents had it a few decades back?

Can there ever be a perfect temperature that you should heat your home to?

The best answer as far as we are concerned is – the lowest comfortable temperature. Some people will happily turn down their heating in the bedroom but don’t want to wrap up in their living room, while others will put on jumpers and use an extra high tog duvet. At the end of the day, it’s your money – so decide for yourself what you are comfortable with, but don’t set the thermostat to 21°C simply out of habit!

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