What Temperature is Too Cold for a House? - Cagle Service Heating and Air
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

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

  1. Taras Holden

    64 degrees in winter time is stupid and cold to be in your house when you want to be warm and comfortable.

    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. Frances

        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°!

    2. Oh B*ll. I am sitting here in my 57 degree northern rural home and as comfy as can be. Dig into the science. You can easily get comfortable with colder temperatures. You adjust slowly if you haven’t experienced it before and have an interest in experiencing it. I did it at about 2 degrees at a time and now I’m fine as can be. In fact, I forgot to change the thermostat from 60 to 57 on one day and started noticing that I felt too warm and wondered what was going on. Saw the thermostat and though, goodness, now 60 is warm for me!

      I do a lot of cardio every morning — about two hours. I learned that the results in several hours of being warmer also, from the metabolic increase. I tend to eat a lot of protein/fat for lunch. That too increases metabolism and causes body warmth for several hours.

      I’m not uncomfortable. I have an easier time going outside to shovel snow. My energy level is great.

      And I tell you, my wallet loves it, too.

      You’re comfy in a warmer temperature because that is what you are teaching your body to prefer. It’s just sitting on a couch for a long time. Comfy bodies tend to stay comfy by sitting in that chair.

      It’s actually good for your health to adapt to cooler temps — and to not sitting around in a cozy chair. LOL

      1. Scarlet

        What about people with circulation disorders? My hands and feet are purple at 72 degrees inside temperature in the summer. Don’t generalize. It’s bad advice.

        1. This is like responding to someone talking about the benefits of running with “What about people with congenital heart defects? Don’t generalize. It’s bad advice.”

        2. Dawn Bacon

          agreed, if its below 77 in my home in the winter I became sick 😫

      2. Sparkly

        You only mention you. The article is not talking to YOU alone. It refers to the plural you. If you like lower temps, go for it! Most humans cannot do 57 to 60!

        1. I agree that I’m 73 years old and find temps below 73 in 39* temp is cold for me but my wife who is diabetic is just right at 73, so what am I to do?

      3. Functionality

        you are so right! I’m frustrated that the new learning thermostats by Google and others do not allow us to lower our temperatures below 50° in our homes. I am much healthier with a lower temperature setting and I do layer clothes since I am a small body. the important thing is to be an active body not just sitting around so you generate your own heat and increase your metabolism not by eating sugar.

      4. Bethany

        I tend to agree. We keep our house at 66 and when we visit parents and their house is 70 my kids turn beet red and start sweating. I do think it’s true we adjust.

    3. It is a personal choice. Anything over 65 degrees and I’m sweating. I am very heat intolerant due to a medical condition. 40-58 is perfect sleeping temperature…with a fan! I need it in the 30’s before I shut the fan off.

      1. What if your actual fan freezes before it gets into the 30s loll

    4. Not at nite when you’re sleeping, it’s exactly perfect. During the day, if you’re active it may be ok but if you’re passive (sitting around) it’s definitely a bit cool.

    5. I keep my house at 62. If someones cold, I just tell them to standout side for 5 mins and come back in. It will feel like summer time inside.

    6. Shelly finch

      it is what we set our house to and we wear socks sweat shirt and not.live in shorts .

    7. Why is it stupid? To some people, 64 feels hot. My wife and I feel very hot if the inside temperature is over 64, and if it gets over 68, he can’t even sleep under thin sheets without sweating.

    8. yes. The temperature should change you can’t feel heat if it 60 degrees or 70 I say 80 degrees we live in Chicago in it’s brutal col in the winter . So you have to pay a heating bill it’s only for 3 or 4 months and they have cedar.

  2. My hands and nose is cold when the temp in the house is 68F.

    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.

    2. Same, my hands get cold pretty easily. The temp in here in the winter is ideally 68-72 for me because I can’t handle anything below or above that with heat.

    3. just turn the heater on at 64; 68 will turn off that’s Winter
      Temp Central valley California living

  3. Reno Cuomo

    I tried 50 degrees and after a short adjustment period it’s not that bad. Save the environment and your money!

  4. 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.

  5. William & Rita

    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. William & Rita

        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!

      2. Phil & Liz

        Is it OK to leave the house at 50°F in winter if it is below freezing (20°F) outside?

        1. Hi Phil and Liz. It really depends on the house itself and if it has exposed pipes, etc. It also depends on if you are referring to a vacant home or living in the home at 50 degrees. Our blog post above covers these scenarios so I would suggest reading it over again. In a vacant home, 50 degrees is usually the recommended minimum temperature to leave the thermostat set to in order to avoid freezing pipes, etc. But, again, this doesn’t mean there aren’t scenarios for homes that should be kept at a higher temperature. If living in the home, 64 degrees has been the recommended minimum temperature, but again this can vary on numerous factors, such as kids/infants and the elderly living in the home, etc. Please note that we are not professionals when it comes to recommended temperatures for homes. We are simply sharing the information we have gathered and recommend. Ultiamtely it’s up to the homeowner to make the final decision.

  6. Susan M Skiba

    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!

    1. Wow. The room you rent has NO heat? Do you at least have an electric heater or something that you are using?

  7. 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.

  8. Linda G

    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.)

    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!

    2. thegreatvismaiiiiii

      I’m in ATX too. We thankfully had power during that storm and now everything is good.

  9. My mom keeps the temperature of the house at 62 degrees. I am the kind of person who sits for hours outside in 95 degree weather happily. She says to bundle up but that doesn’t help my bare hands and face. She doesn’t compromise either.

  10. Tanner Reynolds

    This is solid advice through and through.I was looking for extreme in depth information but I’m glad this is information readily available to the public.

  11. For financial reasons, I keep my house between 57 and 60 in the wintertime. Unfortunately, I am miserable a lot of the time due to immune system and circulatory issues, but I do the best I can with as many layers as I can manage.

    1. Please dont live that way. Get yourself fleece sheets for your bed and add a good wool blend blanket. My wife and I keep our sleeping temperature @ 54. During the day we keep the house @ 61, however, we have a 750 watt electric heater that raises the room we r in to around 64. No its not on all the time!!! On for 4 hours than off for 2, always totally off after 8 @ night. Living below 60 is not a way to live for most of us, never mind someone with immune system and circulatory issues.

  12. Wiilliam & Rita

    Well, we did get the house winterized this last Fall but as of yet we’re not seeing a whole lot of savings on the gas bill. But, it’s still early in December yet. The next month or 2 should be telling. We do now have a “split unit” AC/Furnace upstairs but we only use it for the heat, as it does not use gas that way. The rest of the house we keep on 53 degrees Fahrenheit now, and although it’s chilly at times, it’s doable.

  13. It is a personal choice. Anything over 65 degrees and I’m sweating. I am very heat intolerant due to a medical condition. 40-58 is perfect sleeping temperature…with a fan! I need it in the 30’s before I shut the fan off.

  14. Edinboro Mike

    Wow! There are a lot of posts here. I can’t believe all the folks that bad mouth folks that want to stay warm(calling them stupid is stupid). I like my house at 68f. I’m sure it’ll be a time when I’m going to raise my house temperature to 70f or 72f. My grandma used to set her house at 76f.. It’s my choice. I find the difference in cost to heat my home (62 vs 70) minimal. My cost variance was probably around $25 month (not balance). Of course I have good insulation. And I also heat with natural gas.
    If you’re comfortable, that’s where you should set your temperature. But how do you go from cold temperatures in the winter to hot temperatures in the summer? Or do you sit your AC at 50°? That’s a significant adjustment to living conditions.

  15. Leandro

    I’m from Southern Brazil and we have no heating at our homes there. We spent most of our winters around 30s to 40s (I also have a baby by the way) and we are all live and well. Living up north means that we can choose to set our home to be warm and comfy now (we indeed like it at 68 degrees), but if we had no means to afford it, we would still be ok to have it on the 50F minimum to keep the pipes from freezing.

  16. Kyra Roberts

    My room is heated with only a space heater and this morning after a blizzard it is 39 degrees! A bit too cold for my liking. I prefer 48-55 degrees

  17. Who cares the personal preference. Some like it cold some like it hot. I prefer 70–75 so that I can wear my most comfortable clothing. I’m sorry, but we live in the
    21st century. We can choose the heating that works best for our lifestyle. Research says: 54- ideal mental sleep/ 68- ideal for cognitive action…. But if we agree to pay for it, let it be the temperature that meets our lifestyle- able bodied, disabled, preference, what have you.

  18. Karen-Irvin Dickson

    I did not see any comments concerning elderly people suffering from arthritis. In addition to circulation problems, I have arthritis throughout my body. Temperatures in the home less than 70° F in the winter cause me considerable pain in my joints, which is not made better by bundling more clothes on. I’m not put out by trying to feel “comfortable”, I just don’t want to be in constant pain.

  19. dan clark

    my apartment is half buried in the ground so during the hot summer it stayed cool with just a small fan it was ok and now that it is almost winter it stays around 61 to 65 degrees without any heat. i am 67 and wear a scarf and long johns and wear a I LOVE JESUS HAT and put a blanket over my legs and it is ok.. I am saving a lot of money too… my fruits and veggies stay longer sitting out.. i am in west virginia and we had 19 degrees last week early in the morning and my thermometer was 61 degrees that morning.. not bad i say.. it does warm up during days ,, so far my electric stays around 20.00 a month and i have no gas bills

    1. Sounds like your money saving plan is working for you Dan! And, it doesn’t sound too uncomfortable. Thanks for sharing!

  20. Michael

    my son’s mother keeps the heat blasting and it’s easily 85 to over 90 degrees most days when I arrive around 7. they sleep like that and if anyone takes a shower she cracks up all of it even more. I find it absolutely intolerable. I’m curious to hear and share with her what is wrong with this scenario because she doesn’t listen to me so I’m hoping she will listen to somebody on here. help and thank you

    1. Well that seems to be extremely warm to live in. I would think most people in your home don’t agree with it being that warm? If most people in the house think it is too warm, I would think she would be willing to turn the heat down so that everyone finds a happy medium, right?

  21. If it’s not at least 68, I’ll be walking the house with a sweater and wrapped in a blanket.

  22. I would line to keep it cooler in the house – especially at night, but if the temps go below about 64 or so while I’m sleeping I get cold weather bronchitis and it’s awful. I’ve started to lower the temp to about 60 and then just have a space heater in my bedroom to keep it at 65. Now that I’ve read this though – I think I’ll set it a little lower at night, no sense heating rooms no one is in.

  23. Patricia Andrews

    Thank you for the useful article and everyone’s replies. We are 100% off grid with no fossil fuel back-up, in an area where the winter lows usually hover in the 10s to 20s°F. The majority of our heat comes through passive solar gain windows. An insulated crawl space below an un-insulated floor helps a lot too. We have R-45 Rockwool in the roof and R-35 in the walls. We’re almost done with construction and I’m running through our final energy calculations… we can achieve an average Dec/Jan temp of 58°F just from the passive strategies but the swings are still too big. Plus/minus 10 degrees is pretty typical. Do you have any suggestions for reducing the swings in temperature? I have some natural slate I was going to use for heat retention but that might bite me in summer.

    1. Hi Patricia. Thanks for your comment! We work primarily in the HVAC field and have some recommendations for general temperature settings for thermostats as the blog post refers to, but we are not energy experts or professionals when it comes to things like solar. I would recommend finding someone who specializes in that field to help give you an accurate recommendation. Thanks for stopping by though and feel free to share what information you find here!

  24. I live in B.C. canada and I don’t have any control of the heat and the slum lord upstairs is more interested in saving money so when she goes to bed or is on holidays the night and early morning room tempatures is any where from 59 F to 65 and I find it way to cold and I have told her that I am so cold because of my medication and she doesn’t care. She says she gets nose bleeds if the tempature is too hight which for her is past 70F. I have even offered to give her more money and she said no. And because of these low tempatures the furnace very rarely kicks in and does three cycles. The most I have heard is two so I know there is something wrong with the furnace and she won’t have it srviced. I am just waiting for the furnace to explode or catch fire. So I now have a mini heater and that is much better.

  25. Paul Thomas Maack

    I like to keep the house at about 55. any warmer and I start to sweat. too much cooler and I need to wear a shirt or pants to be comfortable. 50-55 is the magic range.

    1. That’s interesting! I don’t know if I could handle that temp consistently. It’s interesting how everyone has different opinions on this!

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