arrives the Christmas in full cold season winter and in most homes it is time to check our heating systems and turn them on to be as comfortable as possible during gatherings with family and friends.
However, with the price of energy still sky high, both electricity and fuel, it is advisable be as efficient as possible and save every watt of electricity, gas and every gram of firewood or pellets that we put into our stoves.
For this, one of the most important factors is knowing how to choose correctly. what temperature should we select in our thermostats or, if we don’t have a thermostat because for example we use a stove, being able to control the temperature of the room so as not to spend too much fuel.
The ideal temperature at home: this is what science says
Okay, so what’s the ideal temperature What should be put on the thermostat to achieve a comfortable environment without spending a fortune on electricity or fuel for the boiler?
The answer is not unique, since although science responds with a series of theoretically “ideal” figures, the reality is that in the end the ideal temperature inside the home will depend on multiple factors, such as who lives in it, our thermal perceptions, the age of the inhabitants, the ambient humidity, the time we are going to spend inside, etc. However, there are a series of values that we can take as a reference and from there start playing with the thermostat.
According to a study by the IDAE (Institute for the Diversification of Savings and Energy) and taking into account standardized ergonomic criteria of the thermal environment, the comfort temperature in a closed environment such as a home and “passive” activity, that is, when we are not doing any physical activity, it is in winter between 21°C and 23°C for daytime and between 15°C and 17°C at night.
If we exceed these 23 degrees, the air will be drier, the discomfort inside the house will increase and we will skyrocket energy consumption as soon as the outside temperatures drop, especially if our home does not have good insulation. How much? Well between 7% and 10% for each degree higher that we put on the thermostat.
The ideal temperature at home: additional factors
As we pointed out at the beginning, There is no “perfect temperature” general that we can apply and that’s it, since there are a series of factors that influence our perception of the cold and our needs at home. Among them we can highlight the following:
Type of room where we are
The ideal temperature It will depend on the type of room in which we turn on the heating. For example, a bathroom where we momentarily want a warmer environment so as not to get cold when we get out of the shower for a few minutes is not the same as a bedroom where we only go in to sleep at night or the living room where we will spend many hours throughout. throughout the day.
In rooms such as the bathroom for short periods of time we can have the heating at minimum or disconnected and use a fast-acting portable electric heater that will allow us to reach those extra calories in a short space of time without having to wait for the bathroom to be permanently at that higher temperature, since most of the day we are not going to take advantage of it.
In rooms like the kitchen we will also have the help of the stove, which will increase the average temperature while we cook and where in general we will spend little time and we also have Refrigeration equipment which will work best with low or moderate temperatures, such as refrigerators and freezers. For this reason, it is not usually highly recommended to raise the thermostat in this room, but rather to set it to a lower level, such as between 19-20 °C.
As we see, it is advisable to have heating systems that we can control independently in each room, or if we have a unified thermostat for the entire house, which is installed in a central area and for medium use where we are going to spend most of the time, such as a living room.
Thermal sensation and ambient humidity level
Another factor that intervenes in the comfort of the home and that can influence how much we spend on heating is the so-called thermal sensation, a term that refers to people’s ability to perceive different sensations of cold or heat at the same objective external temperature.
And one of the culprits that this thermal sensation varies inside the house is the relative humidity percentage or relationship between the partial pressure of water vapor and the equilibrium vapor pressure of water at a given temperature. Above values of 50% relative humidity in the home usually increases the feeling of heat and on the contrary, with lower values we usually have the feeling that it is colder and we will tend to turn up the heating, spending more.
The IDAE recommends a relative humidity of 40%-50% inside the house and, in case we want to vary this percentage without resorting to turning up the heating or air conditioning, we can choose to use some humidifier or dehumidifier which will allow us to modify the amount of water present in the air of the home.
Health status and activity of the inhabitants
The figures recommended above are values given for middle aged people in good health. However, there are situations in which we will probably have to vary the thermostat to improve comfort inside the home.
For example, according to WHO guidelines on housing and health that are accessible directly from this website, the agency establishes that there is increasing evidence that cold temperatures in indoor spaces have negative consequences for human healthsince cold air inflames the lungs and inhibits circulation.
This is the case of homes where there are small children, especially babies, but also the elderly and people who are sick or have reduced mobility who, due to their physical situation, cannot carry out physical activity throughout the day, having a slower metabolism.
What temperature is considered too cold for indoor homes for healthy, adult people? Well, the WHO establishes that for countries with temperate or moderately cold climates (such as Spain), the barrier is located at 18 ºC to have a safe and balanced environment. Thus, as we can read in the study:
There is no demonstrable risk to the health of healthy sedentary people whose home has an air temperature of between 18 and 24 °C.
The Organization also points out that for the most vulnerable groups of inhabitants, including the elderly people, children and people with chronic illnesses, a minimum interior temperature higher than 18 °C may be necessary. How many more degrees? Well, they don’t specify it, but there are other studies that recommend that the home temperature for babies and vulnerable people should be between 22-24°C during the day and 18-20°C at night.
Cover image | Arthur Lambillotte
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