Survey: Millions Of UK Households Are Setting Their Heating Too High (Or Low)

What temperature do you set your thermostat?

The Energy Savings Trust recommend setting your central heating between 18 and 21 degrees. But when we recently polled over 1,000 UK householders, we found that millions of UK households are setting their heating too high…. or too low.

And hundreds of thousands could even be risking their health.

Here’s a quick summary of what we discovered:

  • 20% of UK households set their heating too high (with 4% risking their health)
  • 10% set it too low (with 5% risking their health)
  • Millions of households could save money by turning down a degree or two
  • Generally, the thermostat gets turned down the further south you get
  • Northern Ireland likes to keep warm, while Wales likes things a little cooler

Now let’s dig into the detail.

The Results Of Our Survey

We asked 1,256 UK householders with thermostatically controlled heating which temperature they set their thermostat.

Here are the results:

TemperaturePercentageNo. of households
151.23%334,560
164%1,088,000
174.31%1,172,320
1812.31%3,348,320
1912%3,264,000
2026.77%7,281,440
2120.31%5,524,320
228.62%2,344,640
234%1,088,000
242.46%669,120
252.46%669,120
260.31%84,320
271.23%334,560

* no of households calculated from ONS figure of 27.2 million UK households (2017)

We also charted the results in the graph below:

We were surprised to find that almost 30% of householders were setting their thermostat outside the recommended temperature range of 18-21 degrees.

And we were particularly concerned by the 9%+ of respondents who set their thermostats below 17 degrees, or above 24 degrees.

According to a 1996 study by Richard Moore, room temperatures between 12 and 16 degrees risk respiratory problems, while room temperatures above 24 degrees increase risks of heart attacks and strokes.

Financial Impact

The higher you set your thermostat, the higher your heating costs will be.

According to the Energy Saving Trust, turning down the thermostat by just one degree could save the average 3 bedroom home £75 per year in heating costs.

Which means that the 1.23% (or 335,000) of UK householders who set their central heating at a 27 degrees could save £450 per year by turning down to 21 degrees, and £675 by dropping the mercury down to 18.

That’s a serious saving.

Average Central Heating Temperature By Region

We also worked out the average central heating temperature in each UK region.

Homeowners in Northern Ireland set their thermostats the highest at 21.27 degrees, while Welsh households set their heating the coolest at 19.61 degrees.

Based on the Energy Saving Trust’s estimates, this means that families in Northern Ireland could be paying £124.50 more in annual heating costs than their Welsh neighbours.

There was a general trend for the heating temperature to drop the further south in the UK we go (which makes sense), although Yorkshire and London were outliers.

Our Advice

The Energy Saving Trust recommend you set your heating to the lowest comfortable temperature, which is generally between 18 and 21 degrees.

We would echo that advice.

Any higher and you are burning energy unnecessarily. Any lower and you’re going to start to feel the chill in the winter.

For more energy saving tips, check out our heating and plumbing guides.