Cold temperatures and higher energy bills have many Americans taking a second look at their thermostats this year. Out of all 50 states, Arizona ranked No. 1 for setting their thermostats to the warmest temperature during the winter, settling for a balmy 72.3°, with the national average being 70.2°. 

High energy bills are particularly unwelcome this year because most people have already seen their spending power eroded by high prices elsewhere, from grocery stores to gas stations. Unfortunately, the costs of natural gas and heating oil have risen as well and remain near historic highs. Households can expect to pay 36% more to heat their home this winter compared to two years ago, according to the National Energy Assistance Directors Association. 

Given all of these stressors, we wanted to gauge Americans’ concern about energy costs and better understand when and why they choose to turn the heat up or down. To that end, we analyzed data from a survey of 3,900 people throughout the country to get a feel for how Americans are weathering this winter.

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Main Findings

• The average thermostat temperature was 70.2 degrees during winter.

• Most people (81.4%) wait to turn on their heating at a particular outdoor temperature, rather than at a specific time of year. The average outdoor temperature threshold was 50.5 degrees.

• Those without a smart thermostat were far more likely to change their thermostat infrequently, with a quarter saying they only adjust it between seasons.

• Six out of ten people say their energy costs have gone up to some degree this year, and four in ten were “very concerned” with energy prices. But only 22% said cost was the main reason they adjusted the thermostat.

• The Western U.S. saw the most people reporting their energy costs were actually lower than last year, and the most people who were “unconcerned” about energy costs.

• The highest winter thermostat temperatures were in Arizona, Florida, New Mexico, and  Mississippi, which set their heat at over 71 degrees Fahrenheit.

• Montana, Washington, Hawaii, and Vermont kept their thermostats set lowest at under 68 degrees Fahrenheit.

What Temperature Do People Prefer?

Scientists say the ideal temperature for human bodies to function at is around 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Our findings show that people by and large agree with the scientists here. 

When asked about their ideal indoor temperature, regardless of season, the average person said 69.1 degrees, while the most common response was 70 degrees. In terms of how warm people keep their homes in winter, the average person said they set their thermostat to 70.2 degrees, while the most common response was 70 degrees.  

When we drill down to the state level we see a slightly wider spread in temperature preferences between locations. The highest winter thermostat temperatures were in Arizona, Florida, New Mexico,  Mississippi, and South Carolina. The states where people had their thermostats set the lowest were Montana, Washington, Hawaii, Vermont, and Rhode Island.

A Flourish map

When Do People Turn On Their Heating?

Over four out of five Americans turn their heat on when the outside temperature drops to a certain point. The rest are divided between those who wait for the first snowfall (10.4%) and those who wait for a particular month (8.3%), which is most often November.

Among that majority who have a temperature threshold, the average outdoor temperature that caused them to turn on their home heating was 50.6 degrees. Again, this was largely consistent among age groups.

However, women had an average temperature threshold that was 1.4 degrees lower than men. Women would wait until the outdoor temperature dropped below 50 degrees, and men reached to turn on the heat before it dipped to 51 degrees.

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