I tend to be a bit bullheaded at times. Well, maybe more than a bit, but just because everyone else is doing something doesn’t mean it’s the best thing to do. This is my opinion from my own experience and I suggest you do your own research to find out what works best for you and how your heating bill reacts to different adjustments.
Take the advice that you hear everywhere about turning down your thermostat. Many people turn down the thermostat when they leave for work or are away from home for a day. No one will be there to get cold, so why leave the heater running? It doesn’t make sense to heat an empty house. That’s where I say they’re wrong. It does make sense to heat an empty house because it’s easier for your heater to maintain a certain temperature than to spend an hour or more trying to bring the heat up to a comfortable level. Making your heater work so hard will wear it out much quicker than letting it do its job and maintain the heat in your house.
I’ve often heard people say they turn the heat down at night. Why? Don’t people get cold at night too? Isn’t night often the coldest time? If you are turning the heat down for your own personal comfort then that’s a personal preference, but if you are turning it down to save money, then I must ask, why? Why suffer being cold for the first hour you are up and about every morning? Why make your heater work so hard to heat up your house? Why not just set the thermostat at a comfortable level and leave it there?
In the winter time, our thermostat is set at 68 degrees. That is our comfort level. Yours may be more or less. If we get chilled, we snuggle under blankets or put on a sweater. If we get hot, we strip down to t-shirts. We have hard wood floors that tend to be cold, so we wear socks and slippers. We also have numerous throw rugs that help to keep our feet warmer.
I’m not saying to put your thermostat at 80 degrees. I know some cold-natured folks that would still feel chilly at 80 degrees. I’m saying that if you set your thermostat to a reasonable temperature, and leave it there, then you can regulate your own body heat by adding or subtracting clothing. By the way, some experts say that 72 degrees is the optimum ambient room temperature in both winter and summer. This philosophy works in the summer too. We set our air conditioner at 78 degrees and leave it there.
Our heating and air conditioning bills are usually less than our neighbors who have houses that are very similar in size and construction to ours. They, like so many people, adjust the thermostat several times a day according to how they might feel at any given minute. Here’s a novel idea, stop adjusting your environment to fit you and allow your body to adjust to your environment. The human body is a marvelous piece of machinery, it adapts quite well to temperature changes.
No one person is the same when it comes to comfort levels. In an average family of four, at any given time, one will be hot, one will be cold, one will be comfortable and the last one won’t notice the temperature. By setting the thermostat to a reasonable level and leaving it there, each person can adapt by adding or subtracting clothing. Your heater will thank you and perform its job longer and more efficiently because you are letting it do what it is designed to do, maintain a certain temperature.
If you are concerned with your heating bill, try setting the temp just a few degrees less than you would normally set it. Allow your body time to get used to the new setting. Leave the thermostat alone and you might be surprised at your savings.
(Photo courtesy of Geoffrey Fairchild)