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Endesa - Electricity, Gas, People

The perfect temperature for your home

Published on January 31, 2019

Neither too hot nor too cold. That perfect happy medium is a real mystery when we try and talk about it. Why don't we listen to the experts on this, and take note? What temperature should your home be?

The Instituto para la Diversificación y Ahorro de la Energía (IDAE - Institute for the Diversification and Saving of Energy) is the State body that is responsible, amongst many other things, for raising awareness about energy efficiency. If you ask them what temperature your home should be, the answer is as follows:

  • The ideal temperature for a home ranges between 20 and 21ºC during the day, and between 15 and 17ºC at night.

Take these as a reference point, and avoid the raging debate about where to set the thermostat. If someone is cold, they can put another layer on (better to throw on a jumper than throw money down the drain on wasted energy). If someone is hot, they can always take layers off.

One of the recommendations frequently issued by the IDAE is that the thermostat should be around 20-21ºC, but only when the property is occupied. At night, and when the house is empty, it is best to turn the temperature down. 

Only if the bedroom is especially cold or poorly insulated should the heating be turned on at night. Even then, before making the decision, it is crucial that people check they have adequate nightwear, so are covered up, lower the blinds and draw the curtains. 

We don't all feel temperature the same way

When it comes to the sensation of warmth or cold, we are not all created equal. Some are particularly "cold blooded", and are advised to wrap up warm but not adjust the thermostat; some are particularly warm blooded, and simply need to take layers off and drink more water to keep their temperature down.

Then there are babies. What is the ideal temperature for them?

Paediatricians recommend that the temperature of a baby's home range between 22º and 24ºC in the daytime, and between 18º and 20ºC at night.

With regard to air-con, specialists advise parents not to leave children directly in the path of the air flow.

There are other factors which can influence the way we feel heat. Generally speaking, though there are many exceptions, people with a higher volume of body fat feel the cold less strongly.

At night and when the house is empty, the temperature should be no more than 15º-17ºC.

Temperature isn't everything; humidity is an important factor too

As you surely know, temperature is one thing, in terms of degrees Celsius: an objective measurement that your thermostat will apply precisely. The temperature sensation is quite another. How can it be that, even when you wear the same clothes, you sometimes feel cold at 19ºC and sometimes feel hot at the same temperature?

Quite apart from personal factors such as weight or age (children and elderly people are less able to regulate their body temperature), the key thing is the percentage of relative humidity. To establish a marker, homes typically have over around 50%, which increases the feeling of heat. Conversely: humidity below this level will increase the feeling of cold.

The IDAE recommends maintain a relative humidity level of 40-50% in your home. 

Furthermore, relative humidity can have a real impact on your health. Below 20%, the excessive dryness contributes to respiratory infections. Above 80%, the environment becomes an ideal breeding ground for mites and various types of fungi.

You can use humidifiers to increase the level of humidity in your home, or use dehumidifiers to reduce it.

The ideal relative humidity in a home is 50%. Less than 20% or more than 80%, your health will start to suffer.

The debate continues to rage: What is the best temperature?

Inevitably, disagreements and arguments will continue over the best temperature to have in your home. Science will never stop, and research continues tirelessly. There are a multitude of studies that have attempted, or are attempting, to shed light on the matter.

70 years ago, the Olgyay brothers published "The Bioclimatic Chart": a pioneering chart that defines the concept of thermal comfort, taking account of temperature, humidity, wind, evaporation and solar radiation; since then, there have been all sorts of studies and schools of thought, pointing in one direction or another.

One of the most respected guides is ASHRAE Standard 55, with a table that brings together numerous factors and proposes an ideal temperature for winter and another for the summer months.

Unless there are babies around, the temperature recommendations should be followed regardless of how hot or cold individual people feel; this can be resolved by putting on or taking off clothes