We’ve received a number of inquiries from readers about the “best” temperature to set the thermostat during waking hours when they’re at home, and apparently a number of utility companies specify 78°F. Obviously comfort is a subjective thing, one that also encompasses such other factors as relative humidity, airflow and its associated cooling provided by a fan, and even the clothes you’re wearing.
For many people, an indoor temperature of 78°F during the summer is comfortable enough, especially if you also run a table, ceiling, or other fan when you’re in a room. What’s more, 78°F is a high enough setting that your air conditioning won’t run as frequently, saving you money on your utility bills during cooling season. Each degree warmer you set the thermostat can save you about 2 percent.
During a heat wave like the record-setting one that’s recently blasted the East Coast, your air conditioning is likely going to run a good deal of the time even with the thermostat set to 78°F. While you do want to cut back on energy use during a heat wave, common sense suggests that you keep your house at a comfortable, safe level when the mercury rises.
Many of you keep the thermostat at a lower temperature than 78°F during the summer; indeed, at our daily news meeting this morning a few colleagues admitted to leaving the thermostat at 68°F.
But if you want to try to cut your electricity consumption and save some money, try this: When you’re at home on a hot day, raise the thermostat a degree at a time and wait a bit after each change to see how that higher setting impacts your comfort level. While you might not make it to 78°F, I’d bet you’ll be able to raise it at least a couple of degrees. Note that you can move the thermostat to an even higher setting when you’re sleeping or away from home.
Just be sure to be mindful of pets. And don’t forget, 78°F is the summertime temperature. During heating season, set your thermostat to 68°F—or as low as you can take it.
For more information, visit ConsumerReports.org