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What’s the ideal room temperature for your home?

By Stephen Marcus Wednesday 23 December 2020

The thermostat: for many of us, it’s a hotly-debated topic in the colder months. We all want to ward off the cold, but the ideal temperature can mean something different to everyone. One person’s nice and toasty is another’s icy-cold!

These different expectations can be tricky to negotiate. And it’s not just that you need to make sure everyone you live with is happy. You also need to keep an eye on your energy use, to keep your energy bills and carbon footprint as small as they can be.

In this article, we give you the basics on the ideal room temperature – from how to decide on the best setting for different rooms, to ways to improve your energy-efficiency, with advice on heating your home economically and sustainably.

A quick introduction to room temperature

So what do we mean by room temperature? Generally, this refers to the ‘ambient’ temperature of a room – which is how warm or cold the air is. 

This can be affected by a number of things, such as humidity – which is to do with how much moisture there is in the air. The more humid it is, the more the air will retain its warmth.

How we experience temperature will also depend on what we’re wearing, and our level of activity. If you’ve just come home after a run, say, or you’re wearing lots of warm layers, you’re more likely to feel warm than if you’ve been home reading a book in shorts and a t-shirt!

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How to heat different rooms: what’s the ideal temperature for each room in your house?

The average room temperature is around 20°C. So if you’re looking for a way to settle debates over where to set the dial, that could be a good place to start!

It’s also worth remembering that it’s a great idea to tailor the temperature to different rooms. Here’s some information on the best temperature room by room.

What is the ideal temperature for your living room? 

The ideal temperature in the living room is between 19 and 22°. This is where you spend a lot of time – and often for long periods sitting still – so it’s likely that you might get a bit more chilly. Of course, the higher you go, the more energy you’ll use – so try to go no higher than 21° if you can.

What is the ideal temperature for your bathroom? 

You don’t want to step out of the shower into an icy cold room! For this reason, it’s best to set your bathroom to around 22°, making sure it’s comfortable for those all-important moments in the morning or evening. Plus, running the bath or shower will create humidity that keeps more warmth in the air – meaning that your boiler won’t have to do as much work to maintain the temperature.

What is the ideal temperature for your bedroom?

Your bedroom doesn’t need to be as warm as other rooms. This is because you generally spend your time there in bed! Many of us don’t like to be too hot at night, so a bedroom’s ideal temperature shouldn’t be any higher than 20° – and it could be as low as 15 or 16°.

Here's a handy diagram of what you need to remember: 

average room temperature

What is the ideal room temperature in winter and summer? 

The ideal room temperature is actually the same all year round. Whether it’s summer or winter, you should aim for around 18 to 20°C as a guide. 

In the summer months, the challenge is more about bringing the temperature down. Once again, humidity is a big factor, so opening windows and doors to create air flow will help lower the moisture in the air – and with it, the temperature?

Whether it’s winter or summer, our guide to the world’s best low carbon heating options could help you find alternative ways to keep your house warm, and your lifestyle green.

Have average room temperatures changed?

In short – yes, they have! In the last 40 years, the average room temperature in the UK has risen a lot – mostly thanks to central heating becoming more commonplace, and improved insulation standards.

Back in 1970, the average temperature of a home in the UK in the winter months was around 12°C. Now, decades later, this has moved all the way up to between 17°C and 23°C.

If you want to bring your heating costs down with improved insulation, head to our ultimate guide to roof and loft insulation.

What is a healthy room temperature? 

The basic level of warmth for a healthy person wearing warm clothing is 18°C. This standard is recognised by the World Health Organisation, and is the minimum standard in the government’s latest UK cold weather plan.

Here are some basic benchmarks for indoor temperatures:

  • 24°C – very warm, could be unsafe for heart conditions

  • 18-21°C – comfortable temperature

  • 18°C – minimum for being comfortable

  • 12-16°C – fairly cold, could be unsafe for respiratory conditions

  • 12°C – cold, could be unsafe for heart conditions

  • 9°C – very cold, could be a risk for hypothermia

What is a typical thermostat setting? 

There’s no doubt about it – the average thermostat setting in the UK has gotten a lot toastier in the past few decades! Compared to the average of around 12°C in the 1970s, the average nowadays ranges from around 17 to 23°C. One government study found that the average is 17.7°C, while a survey by emergency repair firm HomeServe declared a higher average of 23°C.

How to heat a home economically and sustainably

It can be expensive to heat your home during the winter months. According to the Energy Saving Trust, heating makes up over half of the average UK household’s heating bill. And there’s an impact on the climate too. According to the Committee on Climate Change, 19% of the UK’s carbon emissions come from heating our homes and workplaces1.

So it’s definitely wise to keep on top of how you use your heating, to make sure that your bills stay manageable – and to bring down the amount of carbon you’re using. There are a few things to bear in mind:

  • Turning off the heating can create different issues. As well as making it hard for you to stay warm, it can lead to issues such as damp and mould, which can cause health issues and damage your home.

  • Keep doors closed. This means it will be easier to maintain the ambient temperature of individual rooms, so that the boiler has less work to do.

  • Try radiator valves. An affordable addition to your heating system, radiator valves allow you to adjust the temperature of individual radiators, giving you more control, so that you’re not just warming an empty room.

For more on how to bring down your energy use and carbon emissions, see some of our handy guides:

And don't forget the importance of electrical safety around your home. Here are 45 electrical safety tips to make sure you and your family stay safe

What is the average amount of time we should heat our homes for?

According to a government study, the average time for households with central heating is 7.5 hours a day2. For homes without central heating, the average is nearly double, at around 13 hours.

When should we heat our homes: should we leave heating on throughout the day?

In that same government study, there was a big divide, between those who put the heating on in 2 bursts, and those who kept it on all day, without a break.

The first approach is most common. In this case, households have a burst of heating in the morning, and then another longer period in the evening – usually to warm the house before and after work.

If you’re interested in finding out more, and dispelling some myths about energy consumption, find out more in our practical guide on how to run central heating more efficiently during the winter.

Can smart technology help control my heating? 

In recent years, a host of new technologies have emerged, with the potential to help you better control your heating – and perhaps save you some money! These include more sophisticated heat-zoning systems, and smart thermostats. 

A smart thermostat lets you control your heating and hot water with your smartphone, tablet or computer, at any time, and anywhere. It gives you more flexibility and control over your energy use, and can make your home more comfortable. Used well, they can also be a source of energy-savings.

Read our practical guide to smart thermostats and how they can help you control your heating from everywhere, and reduce your energy bills. 

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Can I save money by controlling room temperature?

The colder you keep your home, the lower your heating bill will be – simply because a cooler house loses less heat. Of course, the better your insulation is, the more warmth you’ll get for your heating buck. And, as we’ve seen already, living in a home with living areas colder than 18°C is not a good idea for your health. 

So is it possible to save money by tolerating a slightly cooler home? Very much so.

Another way to save money on your energy bills is by switching suppliers. Why not see how much you could save by switching to OVO? Get a quote in 2 minutes.

Make the most of your heating 

Ultimately, the purpose of your heating system is to keep you warm. And as we can see from the data, for most people this means maintaining a temperature of between 18 and 21°C. 

Aside from making your home as energy-efficient as possible, heating on a budget is about creating warm spaces for when you’ll use them. This could mean having the heating on in your living room when you plan to watch a movie, but not when you’re in bed, or at the shops. 

This way, you get comfort when you need it most, and minimise costs when you’re away, sleeping or not using a room. 

Other questions about ideal room temperatures and thermostat settings 

What’s the ideal room temperature for babies and infants? 

As you might expect, it’s important to be a bit more careful with temperature when it comes to babies and young children. They tend to be less able to regulate their body temperature, and so central heating can be important, to make sure they’re in a safe and comfortable environment.

The most important place to bear this in mind is in their bedroom. While most adults prefer not to be too warm when they’re in bed, the ideal temperature for a sleeping young child can be a little higher. This usually means:

  • For a baby – around 18°

  • For a toddler – between 18 and 22°

For more information on caring for young babies, head to the  NHS advice pages.

What’s the ideal room temperature for the elderly? 

Likewise, it’s important to be more careful with temperature if you or someone in your house is older. Those aged 65 or over are at higher risk of health complications from cold weather, so it’s important to make sure the house and bedroom is warm enough. A couple of things to bear in mind:

  • Keep the home heated to at least 18°

  • Draw curtains at dusk, and keep doors closed to avoid draughts

What’s the ideal room temperature for pets? 

There are a lot of different kinds of pets. So the answer to this really depends on what kind you have! And even when it comes to having a cat or dog, say, there are further things to consider still. What type of breed is it? And how old are they? Here are a couple of things bear in mind:

  • Most pets prefer a similar temperature to humans – so if you’re okay with the thermostat settings, then your pet probably is too

  • Be mindful in the summer – for some pets, overheating can be a risk in the hotter months, so try and make sure the house is as cool and ventilated as possible

Summary 

Here are some key takeaways when it comes to the ideal room temperature:

  • The ideal room temperature is different for everyone – it depends how different people respond to heat and cold, as well as what you’ve been doing that day, or what you’re wearing 

  • Be mindful of those with particular needs – young children and the elderly often need slightly warmer temperatures

  • Aim for an average of 20°C – with the bedroom slightly cooler, and the bathroom slightly warmer

  • Consider getting a smart thermostat – this could help you track and manage your energy use 

  • One of the easiest ways to cut down your energy bills is to find a better deal – ideally with an energy company that offers renewable energy. With the right deal, not only will you help to lower your bills, but you’ll also be burning through far fewer fossil fuels – which is a win-win for both you and the environment.

Try switching to OVO today to see how much you could save. We offer renewable electricity as standard3, and will plant a tree for every year you’re with us. Get a quote in 2 minutes.

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Sources and references:

1  https://www.theccc.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/CCC-2018-Progress-Report-to-Parliament.pdf

2  https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/274772/4_Main_heating_systems.pdf 

3  The renewable electricity we sell is backed by renewable certificates (Renewable Energy Guarantee of Origin certificates (REGOs)). See here for details on REGO certificates and how these work.