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Thermostat Adjustments on Cold Days: Should You Turn It Down To Save Money?

Updated on February 18, 2014
Should you turn your thermostat down when you leave the house?
Should you turn your thermostat down when you leave the house? | Source

We all want to save money on our heating bills and many of us have programmable thermostats that adjust the temperature based on the time of day.

  • But is it a good idea to let the house get too cold during the day?
  • Could some of this depend on where you live?
  • What other considerations should you make when adjusting your heat?

Find out what you should do with your thermostat when you are not home and when you are home.

The Case For Turning Down Your Heat A Bit

Some organizations and non-profits recommend turning your heat down at night. According to the University of Oregon, it takes less energy to heat up a room a few degrees than it does to maintain that higher temperature all day or all night.

According to the Department of Energy, turning back your thermostat 5 to 10 degrees for eight hours or more can save at least five percent on your electric bill.

The easiest way to achieve this is to replace your thermostat with a programmable thermostat.

When Is the Best Time of Day To Turn Down The Heat?

Depending on your work and sleep schedule, your best time of day to turn down your heat during the winter is during the daytime. Since the temperatures outside are normally warmer during the day, turning down your air during the day will likely mean your thermostat does not have to work that hard.

Some people, though, prefer to put on extra layers and extra covers and turn down the air at night. Going to sleep in a cooler room promotes sleeping.

It truly comes down to your preference and your family's preference.

Should You Turn the Heat Off During the Day?

Depending on what part of the country you live in, turning your heat off during the day may not be the best idea.

If temperatures go too low inside and around the house, this could lead to frozen pipes and other issues. Plus, if you turn on electrical heat in a very cold house that has a heat pump, you are likely to kick on the Emergency Heat which is more expensive to run than the regular forced air.

Other considerations include plants and pets. If you have living things inside your house, a temperature that drops too low may not be healthy for them.

Are there other ways to save money during the winter months?
Are there other ways to save money during the winter months? | Source

It Can Save Money But....

So turning your thermostat back can save money but there may be times that turning down your thermostat may not be a good idea.

Some areas of the country have homes that are able to handle the extreme cold very efficiently.

The Case For Keeping Your Thermostat The Same Temperature During The Day

In parts of the Southern United States, extreme cold temperatures can cause problems. Homes and heating units are not built to protect pipes during below freezing cold snaps.

Turning down your heat or turning it off in a Southern State, especially the extreme South, may prove detrimental to your plumbing.

According to a Jacksonville, Florida news station,, during a hard freeze, Floridians should "Keep the thermostat at the same temperature day and night. Your heating bill may be a little higher, but you could avoid a more costly repair job if your pipes freeze and burst."

If you live in a Southern State that rarely experiences cold weather, consider keeping your heat turned up if your temperatures are going to drop below freezing.

What Are Some Other Ways To Save On Your Heating Bill?

Besides adjusting your thermostats there are other ways to save on your heating bill. Here are some simple things that you can do to keep the cold out and your heat in.

Other Ways to Save Money on Your Heating Energy Bill

What To Do
How It Helps
Check the weather stripping around your doors.
Good solid weather stripping around your doors helps to provide an insulative barrier to stop cold air from leaking in and warm air from leaking out.
Check the seal around your windows.
Windows that are properly sealed keep cold winds out of bedrooms.
Keep curtains and blinds closed.
While it may be a bit gloomy, closing off curtains and blinds acts as another layer of protection against the cold.
Repair any leaks or holes in your duct work.
Over time the duct work in your attic can develop holes, leaking precious heat into your attic and not into your home.
Make sure you have good insulation in your attic. Remember that heat rises. Stop it at the ceiling with good insulation.
Having a warm home in the winter is everyone's goal.
Having a warm home in the winter is everyone's goal. | Source

Turning your thermostat up and down may save you a little bit during the cold winter months. But turning it down too far or off may end up costing you more money in the long run in other costly repairs.

If you do have a forced air system, make sure you heat the house back up gradually.

Being smart during the winter cold can save you a few bucks.

What do you do with your heat/thermostat during the winter months?

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    • WiccanSage profile image

      Mackenzie Sage Wright 4 years ago

      Interesting presentation of this topic. Yes, I would agree that it seems to make sense that keeping the temp steady would require less energy than turning it off and putting it up. But at the same time, i'm more of the type who will throw on a sweater or socks before I turn up the heat so I keep it just borderline of comfort. Nice hub.