When Is It Cold Enough To Put The Heat On? (Find Out Now!)

When is it Cold Enough to Put the Heat On?

Some areas of the country make deciding when to turn on the heat a problem. When one day is warm enough for AC, and the next nips your ears with the cold, it is hard to decide when to change from heat to AC.

Turning the heat on for the season is a personal preference as it is a matter of economics or environmentalism. In general, when the temperature is consistently below 64 degrees Fahrenheit, it is probably time to make the change. Older persons and if someone in the house is ill, you may need to add a few degrees to the threshold temperature.

Other factors can affect the temperature where you make the change from AC to heat. Understanding how these factors affect your perception of warm and cold is important to make a wise decision. All these factors must be weighed with your comfort as a priority factor.

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Which is More Important? Indoor or Outdoor Temperature

By and large, you should ignore outdoor temperature when deciding to change from AC to heat or vice-versa. The more important factor is the temperature in your home and how it varies over time.

Well insulated homes with high E-factor windows and doors will stay warmer in winter and cooler in summer. The average swing in temperatures will be different as well. Even as gall progresses and colder average outside temperatures drop, your home may adapt much slower and maintain a higher and more consistent indoor temperature.

Basing your decision on the indoor temperature makes good sense and is a much better predictor of when you should make the change to heating.

Is it Bad to Wait too Long to Turn on the Heat?

Allowing your home to get too cold or to suffer wide swings in temperature can cause many problems. In general, you want to maintain the inside of your home at sixty-four degrees Fahrenheit on average for several reasons.

  • Many materials in your home will absorb moisture. When the temperature drops below 64 degrees in your home, water vapor may begin to condense on cold surfaces. Materials such as upholstery, sheetrock, wood, and other building materials will absorb this moisture which can support mold and mildew growth. Keeping the inside of your home above sixty-four degrees helps prevent these problems.
  • Turning the heat too low can lead to problems with freezing pipes. Even if the inside temperature in your home doesn’t get below thirty-two degrees Fahrenheit, pipes may freeze and burst if the temperature outside goes below freezing. Exposed garden hose connections and other pipes may freeze or allows the cold air to infiltrate around pipes and cause damage.
  • Some experts advise that allowing your house to cool to below sixty-four degrees costs more in the long run than letting your heating system maintain a constant sixty-four degrees. The heater must run longer and work harder to lower the house’s temperature to bring the interior back to your comfort zone.

Most HVAC experts recommend installing a programmable thermostat that can be scheduled to raise and lower the temperature. When you are normally out of the house and at work, the thermostat can keep the house a bit cooler. When you are home, the thermostat automatically brings the house back to your comfort zone temperature.

What are the Recommended Comfort-Zone Temperatures?

The World Health Organization recommends a winter thermostat setting of 64.5 degrees Fahrenheit. Many people consider this cold and don’t find it comfortable for very long without wearing extra clothing and taking other measures to ensure personal warmth.

If there are small children, older individuals, or the sick in the home, a warmer temperature is recommended. In these cases, the WHO recommends that the home be kept at 69.8 degrees Fahrenheit.

Some HVAC manufacturers make their own recommendations about temperature settings. Trane, one of the largest and oldest manufacturers of HVAC equipment, maintains that your home’s heating thermostat should be set to sixty-eight degrees Fahrenheit.

Your personal preference must fit into the equation. Some people like their home cooler in the evening and at night. The addition of extra bedding is an option preferred by many people. It is not uncommon for those in colder climates to set their thermostat lower. In these areas, people compensate by wearing warmer clothing in their homes.

Does Lowering My Thermostat Really Save Money?

There are many recommendations for saving money on heating bills by lowering your thermostat at least part of the time. Many people wonder if this is true or more propaganda by the environmentalists.

Studies have shown that lowering your thermostat by only seven to ten degrees for as little as eight hours a day can save you as much as ten percent of your home heating bill. This is certainly not a huge saving, but if you aren’t in the house during those eight hours, why do you need those extra seven to ten degrees?

When Is It Cold Enough for Full-Time Heat?

That is the big question, and the answer is different for almost all of us. We each tolerate heat and cold differently. As we age, we experience heat and cold differently. The young and the sick have their own needs for heating and cooling. There is no fixed answer to the question of when to turn on full-time heat.

We can judge by the recommendations, but, by and large, personal preference and situational factors are the big keys to this decision. You must consider the situation in your home, the occupants, and the conditions. The overriding concern is to keep a safe, healthy, and comfortable environment for everyone in the home.

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Keeping Warm or Staying Comfortable

You decide which is more important, keeping warm or staying comfortable. Many people are comfortable at a different temperature than they would define as warm. Some of us prefer to live in our homes in shirt sleeves and shorts year-round. Others are perfectly content to wear sweaters and even toboggans in the house all the time. You, in the end, are the deciding and controlling factor in when to turn on the heat.

Dennis Howard

Dennis is a retired firefighter with an extensive background in construction, home improvement, and remodeling. He worked in the trades part-time while serving as an active firefighter. On his retirement, he started a remodeling and home repair business, which he ran for several years.

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