Are you in a quandary on how to set your home’s thermostat? How do you balance your heating and cooling for every situation (summer and winter / day and night / occupied and unoccupied)?
Here are a few tips to help you:
1. In summer, set your temperature to 78°F (26°C) when the house is occupied. If the house is unoccupied (everyone is either at work or in school), set it to 88°F (31°C). Cover the windows with drapes or blinds to prevent the entry of heat.
Check and improve your insulation and openings such as areas in the roof that are not insulated, doors that have big gaps, windows with damaged caulking. All of these need to be fixed to prevent heat from escaping or getting in.
2. In winter, set your temperature to 68°F (20°C) when the house is occupied and around 55°F (13°C) when it is unoccupied. At night, when everyone is asleep, you can set the temperature to 59°F (15°C). If it’s too cold, you can add more blankets or wear warmer night clothing. Keep the windows uncovered especially when faces the sun, to allow solar heat into the house.
Mount your thermostat away from heat sources like the fireplace and appliances that heat up (stoves, ovens, etc.). Do not install it in a place where the sun can directly heat the wall you plan to mount it on. The best places to mount your thermostat is on an interior wall that has good ventilation or air movement.
3. Use a programmable thermostat so that you won’t have to constantly adjust the temperature. You can set specific times and days to have the temperature raised or lowered to the ideal temperature.
For example: In Mondays to Fridays, you can set the temperature at 6:00am to 68°F and set it to 55°F at 8:00am when everyone leaves for work or school. At 5:00pm, you can set the temperature back to 68°F so that the house becomes comfortable by the time people arrive from work or school. At 9:00pm, the temperature is set to go to 59°F for bedtime.
Dress for the weather. Thin, light clothes is ideal during summer while thick, heavy clothes for winter.
4. During Saturdays, Sundays, or holidays, you can set the temperature to go up to 68°F later, say, 7:00am, since most people stay in bed longer during weekends.
5. During vacation time, set the temperature to 55°F in winter or 88°F in summer. It is not advisable to switch ‘OFF’ the air conditioner when the house is empty. This is to prevent humidity from rising in the interior of the house and causing mold growth.
If you are the only the person inside the house, you can selectively cool or heat just the area where you are staying with portable coolers or heaters. There is no point in heating or cooling the whole house when only a portion of it is actually occupied.
Note that these tips are just suggestions: If 78°F is too warm for you in summer, no one will stop you from lowering the temperature. Just remember that for every degree you deviate from the temperatures mentioned in this article, your energy costs will increase by as much as 6 to 8%. It’s a constant battle between saving energy and being comfortable.