The thermostat is a highly debated topic both in the summer and the winter because everyone perceives the ideal room temperature differently.
But temperature is about more than just comfort. Room temperature affects the health of those who live in the house, as well as your energy bill. Vulnerable groups of people, such as elderly people and babies, are more susceptible to the changing room temperature, and they play a vital role in finding the golden middle.
Here is a quick guide on what the optimal room temperature for your house is and how to avoid health hazards.
What’s the ideal room temperature for your home?
Room temperature refers to the ambient temperature of a room, meaning how cold or warm the air is. There are a number of factors that can affect the way you experience it, such as air humidity, age of your home, sources of heat, physical activity, and the type of clothing you’re wearing.
The UK government recommends an average household temperature of 18°C to accommodate all age groups. The World Health Organisation (WHO) also supports a minimum room temperature of 18°. WHO further states: “There is no demonstrable risk to human health of healthy sedentary people living in air temperature of between 18 and 24°C.”
The optimal room temperature also depends on how often and how each room is used. Living rooms, bathrooms, and dining rooms should be set at 21°C. The majority of your time is spent in the living rooms, while a bathroom temperature of 21°C helps you avoid drastic changes in temperature when stepping out of the shower.
Bedrooms, hallways, and cloakrooms can be set at 18°C. Colder rooms contribute to a better night’s sleep, while non-living spaces are not used as often. Kitchens are best kept at 20°C because of the fluctuating temperature when cooking.
What can happen if your home is too cold?
WHO has outlined the health hazards of a cold indoor temperature, the main ones being respiratory and cardiovascular morbidity. According to a study published by Public Health England, vulnerable groups are the most susceptible to cold temperatures. These groups include older people, children, and those with chronic illnesses.
“The studies showed in general that the changes in outcomes such as blood pressure, clotting factors, cholesterol, and in core and skin temperature were more profound, with slower recovery, in older people climates”, says Public Health England. The studies also demonstrated that older people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease experienced improved respiratory symptom scores when they spent at least nine hours in indoor warmth at or above 21°C.
So how are Britons heating their homes? A 2021 survey conducted by the UK Department for Business Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) showed that 77% of the respondents used gas central heating as their preferred heating method. To ensure that you don’t encounter any issues with your heating this winter, make sure you call an engineer to conduct an annual gas safe boiler service.
According to Karl Tulloch of Rightio, “Servicing your boiler regularly, at least once a year, ensures that your boiler is combusting fuel safely and can also reduce the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning, which is a common issue amongst households and can be fatal.” This will also prevent you from paying costly repairs bills in the long run.
The dangers of an overheated home
In an attempt to avoid the harsh coldness, many people end up overheating their homes. This occurs not only in winter but also in summer, and it largely affects households that don’t have an appropriate air conditioning or are living in modular homes which have a lightweight construction. The heatwave we experienced this summer caused by climate change put many people at risk because our homes are not built to withstand extreme weather conditions.
So, what is causing overheating in our homes? There are two main sources: external and internal gains. External gains include the area where the home is built and its orientation, inadequately ventilated new houses, and the use of blinds and shutters. Internal gains are dependant on the age and type of your home and include overcrowding and building systems such as hot water, lighting, and appliances.
Similar to insufficient heating, overheating poses a number of health threats, particularly amongst vulnerable groups of people. In July 2020 when temperatures in Cambridge rose to 38.7°C, a record high, deaths per day rose from about 1,100 to nearly 1,500.
The main causes for excess deaths in heat are respiratory and cardiovascular diseases. Some of the heat-related illnesses that can occur include heatstroke, heat rash, and heat exhaustion.
Getting the right room temperature in your home is of high importance not just because it can have a significant impact on your energy bill but also because it can prevent severe temperature-related diseases, even fatalities. Make sure you follow the guidance and pay special consideration to the vulnerable people living in your household.