Ideal Room Temperature in Winter: Keep Your House Warm in December, January, and February!

Fact checked by Olga Sadouskaya, MD
Clinical Pharmacologist, Chief Medical Officer

With winter on the horizon, it's important to know the ideal room temperature settings for your home for when it gets chilly outside. It can be tempting to turn your thermostat up during the winter to feel cozy, but is it really necessary? Can you be comfortable in lower temperatures and save on your heating bill?

In this article, we're going to find out what is the perfect temperature for different rooms in your house and walk you through several options for saving money — and energy — on heating costs.

What is the ideal room temperature in winter?

So, what's the ideal temperature for your home in winter? The World Health Organization suggests 64.5 F (18 C) — anything under this temperature is too cold, and anything over 75 F (24 C) is considered to be too warm and potentially unsafe for people with heart conditions. So the ideal room temperature should be somewhere in between, right?

The average comfortable room temperature is considered to be around 68 F (20 C). But it varies based on your metabolism, weight, and personal preferences. Some people overheat easily, while others are always cold. Still, 68 F (20 C) is a good place to start when settling thermostat debates in winter.

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Is it the same for every room?

Well, you can't go wrong with keeping the temperature in your home at 68 F, but it can also be a good idea to tailor it to different rooms. Here are a few tips on the ideal temperature for each room in winter.

The living room is where you usually spend more time sitting still, so you may want to keep it a bit warmer during winter. The perfect temperature for the living room is between 66 and 71 F (19 and 22 C). Of course, you can go higher than that, but remember — the warmer the temperature, the more energy you’ll need to use to keep your living room toasty. So maybe you can just throw on an extra blanket?

A woman adjusting her thermostat to maintain ideal room temperature in winter

Your bathroom is another room you may want to keep a bit warmer — no one wants to step out of the steamy shower into an icy cold room! So it’s best to keep it at around 71 F (22 C). But keep in mind that running a hot bath or shower can naturally make your bathroom warmer, so your heater may not need to work that hard after all.

Your bedroom, however, can stay a bit colder — a cooler environment can help you sleep better and can save you a bit of money on the heating bill. Most doctors agree that the best temperature for a restful sleep is somewhere between 60 and 67 F (or at 15.6 to 19.4 C). Makes sense; after all, you spend most of the night wrapped in a cozy duvet.

What is the ideal humidity and temperature for a baby room in winter?

Since babies can’t say when they’re too hot or too cold, it’s up to their parents to know what’s the right temperature for them. Cooler environments will make your baby fussy, but a baby room that’s too warm may lead to sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Ideally, your baby's room temperature should be between 68 and 72 F (20–21 C) in winter.

What about humidity? Dry winter air can cause your child to have nosebleeds, skin irritation, and itchy, dry eyes. Cold symptoms also tend to last longer in dry environments. So keeping the humidity at a comfortable level can help to make your baby comfortable during the winter months.

Doctors recommend keeping your baby’s room at 50–60 percent relative humidity.

Setting the humidity below 60 percent will lower the change of allergen growth while keeping it above 50 will stop the spread of viruses, hold the dust particles down, and prevent skin irritation and sinus issues.

Check on your baby to ensure that the humidity is in the right place: if your child is sweaty or has red skin, they’re too hot, so you may need to adjust the temperature and humidity.

Is the ideal room temperature different for cats and dogs in winter?

If you have pets you may want to make sure your fur babies feel comfortable at home. Pets can easily live at the same temperatures as their owners, they can even tolerate slightly colder environments — most pets typically grow a thicker coat for the winter. But pets with certain conditions like arthritis may struggle in cold weather because it often triggers joint pain.

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The minimum room temperature for dogs and cats is 64 F, but setting your thermostat at 69–72 F (20.5–22 C) ensures your pets are comfortable during the winter season. Still, you should consider your pet’s situation before deciding on the temperature. Pets with thick coats like huskies and Persian cats have a better tolerance for the cold, so it’s okay to set the thermostat at the lower end of the spectrum. Young puppies and kittens (or elderly pets), may need the room temperature to be closer to 72 F.

If you plan on leaving your house for a long time and want to lower your thermostat, keep your pet's bed in a warm place and leave the blinds or curtains open to let some sunshine in for extra warmth. Also, never let the indoor temperature drop below 60 F, it can be dangerous for your pet.

How to maintain ideal room temperature in winter

  • Upgrade your thermostat. Get a programmable thermostat that can automatically adjust the room temperature for a certain time or day of the week. Some smart thermostats even have an app that allows you to remotely control the temperature in your home. And sometimes you can even program it to change the indoor temperature based on how cold (or warm) it is outside.
  • Find the right place for your thermostat. To avoid inaccurate temperature readings, it's critical to place your thermostat in the right spot. "Ghost readings" can happen when your thermostat is positioned in direct sunlight or in drafty areas, so it’s best to install it on a wall close to the center of your house with natural ventilation. Putting your furniture near the thermostat can block airflow and make it difficult to get an accurate reading, so avoid it if you can.
  • Keep an eye on the humidity level. Both humidity and temperature affect how cold or hot you feel. The cool air may be refreshing in the summer when humidity levels are high. But in winter, a chilly space may feel even colder with higher humidity. To avoid this, make sure to keep track of the humidity levels in your home and adjust your thermostat accordingly.
  • Use a space heater. It can quickly warm up a small area of your house without having to heat the entire house. An electric space heater can be an excellent energy-efficient solution for small rooms.
  • Close the doors and seal the cracks in the windows to avoid drafts. Your home may be colder because of drafts or cold air sneaking in through the gaps in your window and door frames. Fill up any gaps or cracks that let the cold in with foam insulation or caulk.
Woman checking if the radiator is warm enough to maintain ideal room temperature in winter

Keep your baby's room at the perfect temperature in winter

Most pediatricians recommend that you keep your baby's room at 68–72 F. But just because the thermostat in the main part of your house is set at 72 F it doesn't mean your baby's room is at the same temperature.

You can measure the temperature in your baby's room with a room sensor — even some baby monitors now offer this feature. Alternatively, keeping it at a temperature that is comfortable for you can also be enough.

Just pay attention to how you feel: if you're too hot or too cold, your baby probably is too — so adjust the settings accordingly.

It’s also important to dress your baby appropriately for the weather. Here are a few suggestions that can keep your baby comfortable:

  • Avoid putting a hat on your baby when you’re indoors. It prevents them from cooling down easily.
  • Dress your baby in an extra layer compared to yourself. Avoid over-bundling your baby.
  • Keep extra comforters and blankets out of the crib. Your baby may accidentally crawl underneath one and become overheated.
  • Avoid placing a space heater near your baby. And make sure the room’s heater doesn’t blow hot air directly at them.

When to lower your room temperature in winter

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, you can save up to 10 percent on your heating bill just by setting your thermostat 7–10 F lower for 8 hours a day. So keep your home around 68 F when you're inside and lower the temperature whenever possible, for example:

  • At night. According to the National Sleep Foundation, the perfect temperature for comfortable sleep is 65 F (18 C). Our body temperature slightly drops in the evening as we get ready for sleep, so most people will be comfortable turning the thermostat down for the night.
  • When you’re out. Here’s another simple way to save on your energy bill — set your thermostat to 60–65 F (15–18 C) when you’re out. But consider your pets, plants, and belongings when deciding on the best temperature — leaving your home at lower than 60 F for long periods of time can be unsafe.

Energy-saving tips for the colder months

Heating your home during the winter months can cost you a small fortune. For example, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, heating makes up, on average, over half of the fuel bill in households in the U.S.

And then there’s also the impact on the climate. One research says heating our homes in winter accounts for 20 percent of carbon emissions.

So it's definitely a good idea to use your heating efficiently to keep your bills manageable — and reduce air pollution. Here’re a few tips to help you save energy during the colder months:

  • Seal the cracks in your windows, doors, and fireplace. It can stop the heat from escaping and the cold air from getting in.
  • Only heat the rooms you use. Close off vents that go to empty, unused rooms, and focus on heating the rooms you need.
  • Let the sunlight in. Take advantage of this natural source of warmth: open your blinds and curtains during the day to let in as much sunlight as possible.
  • Try radiator valves. They are an inexpensive addition to your heating system that allows you to adjust the temperature of individual radiators, giving you more control.
  • Switch your ceiling fan rotation. Set your fans to spin clockwise for the winter months to push warm air down from the ceiling into the rest of the room.
  • Dress for the weather. Stay warm both when you’re inside and outside by layering winter-appropriate clothing. Wear your favorite sweaters, long pants, and thick socks around the house. Then cozy up under blankets at night. Putting rugs on your floor can keep your home extra cozy on cold winter days.
January 5, 2023