white dog under white blanket because the temperature is too cold inside the home

What Temperature is Too Cold for a House?

In the Winter months, most of us like to lower the temperature in our homes in order to save money. This is especially true when we are away at work or on vacation, for example. Some of us even like to keep the temperature lower than normal when we are at home to really maximize savings on our energy bill. But, is there a certain temperature that we shouldn’t surpass? Can it actually get too cold inside of a home when people are present? What about when the home is vacant?

Let’s go over some of these questions below.

Recommended Temperature When You Are Home

The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends setting your thermostat no lower than 64 degrees (F) in the Winter months while people are in the home. If there are infants or elderly individuals, they recommend keeping the temperature at 70 degrees at a minimum.

We believe the WHO’s recommendations above are good and accurate in most situations. But, there can be exceptions of course. For example, when sleeping, many people like their homes (or at least their bedrooms) to be cooler than 64 degrees (F). Once we are snuggled under our warm blankets, 64 might not feel all that cool. So, if you and everyone else in the household are comfortable with going lower than 64 degrees while sleeping, then go for it!

As far as the normal hours of the day when everyone is awake and active in the home, we do recommend the WHO’s guideline of 64 degrees (F) as a minimum. Being in a house for long periods of time that is constantly chilly can have negative health effects. Our bodies aren’t meant to be constantly under the pressure of being cold or even chilly for long periods of time. So, it’s best to keep the temperature at a comfortable level for everyone involved.

Now, if you can wear a couple of layers to help offset the cooling effect of lower temperatures, then go ahead. As long as you and everyone else are still comfortable, that’s the main priority. Did you know that there are actually people who have set their thermostats to 45 degrees (that’s the lowest it would go) and lived in that environment? Of course, they were bundled up in long johns, hoodies, gloves and thick jackets while sitting in a sleeping bag, but they made it work. This is a little extreme in our opinion and not something that we recommend, but to each their own!

Recommended Temperature When the Home is Vacant

Now that we’ve gone over some tips concerning the indoor temperature when people are home, let’s get into some tips for when everyone is away.

When we say everyone, this includes your pets 😉

If you are going on vacation, or even to work, it’s wise to lower the temperature of the thermostat in order to save energy and money. For short periods of time away, like going to work, we’d recommend a temperature of around 55 – 60 degrees (F). While away on long periods of time, such as vacation, we don’t recommend setting the temperature any lower than 50 degrees (F). One of the last things you want is to come back home and find busted pipes and water damage throughout your home. This can be the outcome if the pipes freeze and burst. Setting your thermostat to 33 degrees hoping that none of your pipes will reach 32 degrees and freeze is wishful thinking. Stick with 50 degrees at a minimum. 55 – 60 degrees might be even better if you live in a home that isn’t adequately winterized and setup for Winter months.

Why 50 degrees (F) as a minimum?

Remember that there are spots and areas in many homes that are colder than others. Pipes located within the walls will likely be colder than the temperature inside the home. The 50 degree minimum is meant to compensate for these types of differing factors. Also, if your attic or basement isn’t heated, then it’d be wise to make sure any exposed pipes in these areas are insulated.

Related: 6 Tips to Winterize a Vacant Home

I really hope this information has given you some helpful tips and insight concerning ideal temperatures for your home during the Winter months.

Do you have any comments or experiences (positive or negative) that you can share?

Feel free to comment below!

Related: Winter Thermostat Setting to Save Money

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23 thoughts on “What Temperature is Too Cold for a House?”

    1. I personally find 60-65°F to be the temperatures I am most comfortable at. I would keep it that way at home year round if it was adorable to do so.

      1. I keep my home at 60°-62° and am very comfortable. Even when outside temps are in the 20°s. I have ground source GeoThermal, so I can even keep summer A/C set at 72°!

    1. Martha that’s understandable. Some people are more cold-natured than others. 68 degrees isn’t the “end all be all”. Any temperature that is lower than the normal temperature will save energy.

  1. It is 57 degrees downstairs in my bedroom no matter if the heat is on or not. Can’t imagine another 3 degrees would make it comfortable. I shiver at these temperatures. I grabbed one of those Duraflame heaters and oh what a difference. I keep it just below 70 which is perfect for me. I believe a standard temp is a personal thing.

  2. We have a 95 year old 2 story 5 bedroom wood frame house and the gas heating bills can be outrageous, as the insulation is definitely wanting in it, so we have been trying this Winter to keep the thermostat at 58 F. Admittedly, it took about a week or so to adapt to the cooler temp, but now it seems pretty much fine. We stay dressed throughout the day and all the beds have 2 heavy wool blankets on them and we have made sure that all of the windows are tightly shut and for any opening of the front or back doors, we have the closers on them both set to fast close. So far, the heating costs have dramatically been lowered so if we get past another month to St Patrick’s Day, it should finally be safe to raise the thermostat up abit higher. We live in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and Winter can be fierce, but so can the gas bills. Right now, the temps outside are at -4F and are predicted to drop to -15F, so this should be quite telling for us if this is working or not. This present cold spell should last about another week, according to the Weather Service, then it should go back to lower single digits during the days.

    1. Thanks for sharing a great example! Have you considered improving your current insulation? That might be something to consider if you plan to remain in that home for the long-term.

      1. It’s the wife’s home that she grew up in, so, it’s looking like we’ll be here for the duration. We are looking into getting it weatherized with, maybe, some blown in insulation but this likely won’t be able to be done until…you guessed it…when the weather brightens up again. I strongly suspect that the walls are absolutely hollow and empty with no insulation at all in them. Why they built homes back then in Upper Michigan with such an absurd lack of insulation is a mystery to me. Some rooms are very much colder than others, but thankfully the 3 bathrooms have good heat ducts going to them or else I wouldn’t have been shocked if the pipes had frozen. The temps dipped to 23 below the night before last but the thermostat set at 58 seems to be doing okey on keeping the gas consumption down.

        1. Well I’m glad to hear that your heating system is at least able to keep up and keep your home at a habitable temperature. So I guess this will be the last Winter that you have to deal with the lack of insulation? I’m sure once you get it weatherized and the insulation updated, as you said, it will be much more enjoyable living in that home, especially in the Winter! Thanks again for sharing William and Rita!

  3. I rent a room which has no heat- It got 2 cold for me. It is atleast 30 degrees or les My pop had froze & my little waterfountain is completely frozen. I was so cold that I was getting heafd aches & I got dizzlies & the whole room was spinning. It is like 30 below outside now!

  4. I live in a house in MS and it’s currently 24F. My house has no heating and my AC only does cold air. I’d say my inside temperature is around 30 or so. It’s uncomfortable but not unbearable with a few thin sheets. My hands are the biggest sores as I want to play on my tablet and play games but they can’t be under the covers.

    1. Wow Chris that is pretty chilly! Have you considered getting a furnace or some sort of heat source installed? Heat pumps are great options because they provide AC in the Summer and heat in the Winter months.

  5. My daughter and family are in Austin Texas, with no electricity, and thus no heat, since this morning.
    Urgent: how cold should they feel safe before they decide to brave the icy roads to find a friend or warm hotel?
    (They have a 22 month old baby.)
    Thanks

    1. Hello Linda! Sorry for my late reply. With infants and the elderly you want to be a little more careful. From what I’ve found through research online, I believe around 65 degrees F is as low as you would want to go. But, I would definitely check with a health professional for an accurate temperature as I am not a health professional. I hope it all works out well for your daughter and her family!

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