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How low is too low?

Samantha ponders the question: At what temperature should I set the thermostat this winter?

Samantha ponders the question: At what temperature should I set the thermostat this winter? Click on the photo to tell us your temperature of choice on Facebook.

By Samantha Vercellino

It’s the perfect time to throw on your comfiest sweater, take some simple steps to weatherize your home and turn down your home’s heat. The lower the temperature, the more you save. But, before you crank down your thermostat, here’s what you need to know.

With each degree you lower the indoor temperature, you can reduce your heating bill about one to three percent. Yes, consumers who usually keep their homes or apartments at 75 degrees can save nine percent on their utility bills by lowering it just three degrees.

But, how low should you go? There are a lot of numbers thrown around the Internet.

  • The Department of Energy recommends keeping the thermostat at 68 degrees while you’re at home.
  • The American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy has said you can go as low as 65 degrees.
  • At the height of last winter’s “polar vortex” freeze, the Illinois Department of Public Health advised setting your thermostat no lower than 66 degrees.
  • Our neighbors in the Hoosier state say you can drop the temperature even further, if the time is right. The Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor (OUCC) suggests it’s okay to go as low as 55 degrees – but only when you’re sleeping or traveling. Go below 55, and you could face freezing pipes, the OUCC says.

In the end, how low you go is a common sense question: What’s right for your family and your health? A CUB staffer once quipped that his family wouldn’t react well to a drastic plunge: “I’d have a rebellion on my hands.”

If you’re worried about family politics, try a more gradual approach: dropping your thermostat one degree each week. After about a month, you’ll be able to come down three or four degrees and save a chunk of change.

Please, tell us how low you set your thermostat.