Average UK room temperature and thermostat settings

Posted in:

We all like to feel comfortable at home, that is kind of a deal-breaker. So when the winter draws in, most of us crank up the heating to stay warm and toasty. But compared to generations before us, the average temperature of our homes has been rising.

Back in 1966 (when England won the World Cup), winter homes around the UK had an average temperature of about 12°C. Fast-forward to 2012 (we haven’t won a World Cup since) and our homes are living at an average temperature of 18°C.

That’s 6°C more and no more World Cups. Resisting the urge to call for research to study the link between rising home temperatures and England’s lack of World Cup success, this is substantial.

The reasons behind the rise can largely be attributed to the invention of central heating, floor heating, double glazing and insulation meaning these older homes are now warmer. But have we also gone soft?

Ideal room temperature during winter

Some people like to keep their homes hot, whilst some prefer to keep them cool. Those households will find themselves at different ends of the spectrum when it comes to average UK bill prices.

As recommended by the World Health Organisation (WHO), UK households should have a room temperature in winter of around 18°C.

The Energy Saving Trust advises that you should always set your thermostat to the lowest comfortable temperature – to aid the battle with climate change – but should aim for around 18-21°C.

However, not heating your home sufficiently can put you and your family’s health at risk during the winter months. The WHO stresses the basic level of warmth required for a healthy and well-dressed person is 18°C.

And a study from housing expert Richard Moore outlines exactly what damage can be caused by having homes at certain temperatures;

  • 24°C+ – Cardiovascular risk of strokes and heart attacks
  • 21-24°C – Increasing discomfort
  • 18-21°C – Comfortable temperatures
  • 16-18°C – Discomfort, small health risks
  • 12-16°C – Risk of respiratory diseases
  • 9-12°C – Risk of strokes, heart attacks
  • <9°C – Risk of hypothermia

So your granddad was wrong, we aren’t just softer for having our heating on higher. There are genuine health risks associated with temperatures in your home being too high or too low.

How many hours a day should heating be on?

No households should keep their heating on 24/7 – in fact there should be laws about that, but that would be hard to enforce. Policemen coming round to gauge the temperature in your spare room is a strange thought.

On average, UK homes are heated for about eight hours a day in winter – ten hours a day for homes that have one sustained heating period and seven hours a day for the more usual two heating periods.

Ovo Energy estimate around 70% of UK homes with central heating are active twice per day, with occasional extra boosts when it’s especially chilly. This is a more natural approach providing warmth when most people are in during mornings and evenings, the peaks being around 7am and 7pm.

Best room temperature

Heating experts Vasco go one step further and break down average temperatures at home depending on the room, although you should note this does require a smart thermostat.

  • Living room 19-22°C – As you spending most of your time in your living room wearing everyday clothes or pajamas, you don’t need it to be roasting.
  • Bathroom 23°C – Stepping out of a hot shower into a freezing bathroom is fun for no one, but you can achieve a higher temperature than the rest of your house with underfloor heating and a practical towel radiator.
  • Bedroom 15-20°C – This seems low, given the WHO’s warnings associated with temperatures. But remember almost all of the time you spend here is under sheets, which provide their own warmth.

And what about if you are not home? If everyone is out, just let the heating rest so the temperature only drops a few degrees.

If you are off on holiday, resist the urge to turn the heating off completely as this can lead to problems with damp and frozen pipes (if you are away in the winter). Coming back to reality after some winter sun is tough as it is, so you don’t want to add to your woes. Instead, go for a default moderate temperature of around 14°C.

Home energy savings tips

If you are racking your brains for reasons your bill is so high, you may want to consider the following;

  1. Turn down your thermostat – The Energy Saving Trust state you can save £80 per year by turning your home’s thermostat by just one degree.
  2. Improve your home’s insulation – Fitting loft insulation, filling cavity walls and even adding letterbox bristles can stop you losing energy from your home and reduce how much you spend on electricity.
  3. Make small lifestyle changes – Little things make a difference here so maybe drop your washing machine setting to 30°C, wash dishes by hand more and defrost your freezer every few months.
  4. Get a smart thermostat – If you are after more control, a smart thermostat is essential to allow you to regulate the amount of energy you use.
  5. Switch energy supplier – You could be the most energy-conscious household in the world, but if your supplier is expensive it won’t really help. Here at WeFlip we can save you up to £350 a year by getting you on the very best energy deal.

Give WeFlip a go and see if you can switch easily to a cheaper tariff.