Heritage Restoration, Inc.

Optimal Thermostat Setting

My question is, what would be the optimal reduction in degrees to lower the thermostat at night? We have oil baseboard heat. Too high and you waste fuel. Too low and it takes longer to heat because the floors and furniture will lose the heat.

(not asking you what temperature to keep house at, just variation)

Thank you,


The right temperature variance is a tricky question.  By many standards 5 degrees is the safest choice.  There are a lot of factors to get to the right variation, where you will have to experiment to get the right settings.   Here are some factors to consider:

  • Recovery rate or the relative output of your baseboard heat.  If you have a lot of baseboard heat, well insulated pipes or a warm basement, then you will make a lot of heat really quick.  If there is not enough baseboard heat, then the system will work harder and longer to heat up the spaces.
  • Heat loss of the building.  If you have a lot of air flow AND poor insulation, then you will have to keep the heat with a lesser variation, since the recovery rate will be longer.  For instance, we had a church with a 70’ ceiling.  While the system was big enough to keep the space constantly heated, to bring the space up 10 degrees in 5 hours while it is 20 degrees and a 30 mile hour wind outside would be impossible.
  • Weather.  If it is mild outside, let’s say about 50 degrees, then you can get from 60 to 70 degrees pretty quickly.  Although if it is bitterly cold, it will take a lot longer.
  • Programmable Thermostat.  The key of a good thermostat is the ease of use and accessibility.  I have used a wifi enabled programmable thermostat accessible through a tablet or smart phone.  I get email notifications for low temperatures, as well an ability to change the weekly settings as the temperature changes outside. So if you are on top of the heat settings and are somewhat technology proficient, they are a great option.  Otherwise, a regular programmable thermostat works well when you are comfortable with the right settings.  All of the programmable thermostats have manual overrides that set a new temperature you put in for the duration of period set.  So let’s say you have it set to 62 until 4PM, but you get home at 1PM.  You can turn it up to 70 and it will stay at 70 until 4PM, when it will change to the next setting.

So that is the long answer.  The short answer is if you leave your house for 8-10 hours, turn down your heat from let’s say 68 to 62 when you leave, then bring it back up slowly in two stages.  So maybe 5 hours before you get back bring it up about 4 degrees, then about 3 hours before you get back the other 4.  See if your house is warm enough.


Leave a Reply