What temperature should my home be this winter?
While winter is well and truly here, the rising cost of energy and living is preventing many of us from whacking up our heating, or even setting a temperature at all.
But with our health still important to consider – as living in a cold home can increase the chances of illness for some – it's worth being aware of the ideal heat level your home should be.
So, if you're able to, here's what you need to know about managing your central heating system most effectively.
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What temperature should my home be?
The thermostat in your home should be set to the lowest comfortable temperature, usually between 18°C and 21°C, according to the Energy Saving Trust.
A report by Public Health England also outlines 18°C as the recommended minimum in winter for healthy people. This is particularly important for those over 65 or with pre-existing medical conditions, who may benefit from having it set slightly higher in the range.
In terms of overnight, maintaining the threshold may also be beneficial for protecting the health of this more vulnerable group, who should continue to use sufficient bedding, clothing and potentially thermal blankets.
However, having it set to 18°C through the night may be less important for healthy people who are using these types of heating aids to keep themselves warm. It's best to keep bedroom windows closed at night regardless.
To help reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), also known as 'cot death', babies' rooms should be heated to between 16 and 20°C. "It is important to make sure that your baby is a comfortable temperature – not too hot or too cold. The chance of SIDS is higher in babies who get too hot," the lullaby trust website states.
This room temperature, along with light bedding or a lightweight, well-fitting baby sleep bag, is comfortable and safe for sleeping babies, it advises. You can use a room thermometer to make an accurate judgement, and feel your baby's chest or back of their neck to check if they're too hot or cold.
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How can I effectively control my heating?
While you might want to try ways to stay warm this winter without using your heating, if you are turning it on, it's wise to regulate it in the most effective way possible.
As part of the government's new scheme to help people across the country bring down their energy costs, it has shared top tips to help save on bills with heating. These include:
reduce the temperature a boiler heats water to before it is sent to radiators (known as the 'boiler flow temperature') from 75°C to 60°C
turn down radiators in empty rooms (you can just heat rooms you regularly use, like your living room or bedroom)
reduce heating loss from the property such as by draught-proofing windows and doors
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And now you know what temperature to set your thermostat to, this will prevent you from using more energy than needed. It will heat the room until it reaches the set temperature, then turn off until it drops below what you have programmed for again. You don't need to turn the thermostat up when it feels chillier, as this won't heat your home faster (and it regulates automatically).
Just make sure the thermostat isn't blocked by anything, and keep away from heat sources, to allow it to sense the correct temperature, the Energy Saving Trust points out.
You can also use smart heating controls to adjust settings remotely, use a timer or programmer to ensure your home is only heated when you need it, and remember to get your boiler serviced annually to help minimise energy costs and make sure everything is performing at its best.
Staying warm can help prevent colds, flu and more serious health problems like heart attacks, strokes, pneumonia and depression. Those most at risk from cold weather include people over 65, babies and children under five, those on a low income, people with a long-term health condition or disability, pregnant women and those with a mental health condition.
Make sure you get advice if you feel unwell from a pharmacy, GP, NHS 111, or in an emergency call 999 or go to A&E. Visit the NHS website for information on how to stay well in winter, like getting help with heating, getting COVID-19 and flu vaccinations, and checking in on vulnerable neighbours and relatives.
Watch: Martin Lewis explains how Britons can save £100 a year on boiler usage