Use This Thermostat Setting to Save Money This Winter

The right thermostat setting can keep your home cozy while cutting your energy bill.

Thermostat setting
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Finding the ideal thermostat setting becomes a more urgent question for many Americans as energy prices rise and temperatures fall each winter. The U.S. Energy Information Administration (opens in new tab) projects that this winter heating bills will jump 28% for natural gas, 27% for heating oil, 10% for electricity, and 5% for propane. So how do you choose between your comfort and your rising bills? 

Thankfully there's an ideal middle ground, according to energy efficiency experts.

What's The Ideal Thermostat Setting

The U.S. Department of Energy (opens in new tab) (DoE) recommends that you set your thermostat at 68° F for the majority of each winter day. This is the temperature they recommend while you are home and active around the house, which will give a comfortable level of heat while insulating you against hefty energy bills. 

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You can save even more by turning the temperature down while you're out of the home or asleep. If possible, the DoE recommends you designate eight hours every day to reduce the temperature by between 7 and 10 degrees. This routine could cut your energy bills by up to 10%.

The goal should be to shrink the difference between outdoor and indoor temperatures as much as possible while maintaining your comfort level inside your home.  

Heat Pump Limitations

If you have a heat pump, you may not be able to adopt this cost-cutting strategy of altering your temperature throughout the day. This is because when a heat pump is in its heating mode, setting back its thermostat can cause the unit to operate inefficiently, thereby canceling out any savings achieved by lowering the temperature setting. 

The DoE recommends maintaining a moderate temperature setting throughout the day as the most cost-effective strategy for heat pump owners. However, if you're interested in more precise temperature control, you can consult a heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) specialist regarding a special heat pump thermostat that can enable more precise temperature control (opens in new tab).

For more energy-saving content, check out our home savings hub.

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Ben Demers
Audience Engagement Manager, Kiplinger.com

Ben Demers manages audience engagement at Kiplinger, informing readers through a broad spectrum of personal finance content across social media, articles, e-newsletters, syndicated content, and videos. He is passionate about helping people lead their best lives through sound financial behaviors, particularly saving money at home and avoiding scams and identity theft. Ben graduated with an M.P.S. from Georgetown University and a B.A. from Vassar College. He joined Kiplinger in May 2017.