Best Thermostat Setting For the Wilmington, NC Climate
In Wilmington, NC, finding the right thermostat setting can be challenging due to the region's hot, humid climate. This article offers practical guidance on how to achieve the perfect balance between comfort and energy efficiency.
For summer, set your thermostat to 78°F when home and 80°F when away to balance comfort with energy savings. At night, aim for 72°F to 78°F. In winter, maintain 68°F when home and reduce it to 64°F when away or sleeping. During fluctuating spring and fall temperatures, adjust your thermostat to match the outdoor weather, typically around 68°F in cooler times and mid to high 70s when it's warmer. Remember, humidity control is crucial in Wilmington's climate.
Continue reading for more detailed tips on thermostat settings specific to each season, considerations for different types of residences, and additional strategies to maximize comfort while minimizing energy costs.
DID YOU KNOW?
You can save up to 10% a year on heating and cooling if you turn your thermostat back 7°F to 10°F from its normal setting for 8 hours each day.
— U.S. Department of Energy
Best Summer Temperature Settings
To save energy and avoid overworking your air conditioner, set your thermostat as close to the outdoor temperature as is safe and pleasant.
When you’re at home, shoot for 78°F. For most people, this temperature will keep the air cool enough to remain comfortable, while significantly reducing your electric bill.
When you’re away, set your thermostat no higher than 80°F. You will see some recommendations to turn your thermostat up to 88°F or even switch it off completely. But in humid climates like Wilmington’s, the temperature needs to be a little lower to prevent mildew, mold, and other problems that come from high moisture. Avoid turning off your air conditioner entirely, even if you are away.
When you’re sleeping, keep temperatures between 72°F and 78°F. Most people prefer a lower nighttime setting for better sleep. But try to stay as close to 78°F as possible.
Does 78°F sound too high? It’s important to choose a setting that is right for YOUR family. Experiment with your thermostat to see what your family can handle comfortably.
NOTE FOR WILMINGTON HOMEOWNERS: Keep a close eye on your home’s humidity levels. Not only does your air conditioner cool your home, but it also acts as a dehumidifier. You may need to lower your indoor temperature to keep humidity levels within the EPA’s recommended 30% to 50% range.
Best Winter Temperature Settings
Wilmington, NC winters never get too cold, so maintaining comfortable winter temperatures shouldn’t be very difficult. But you can still save money with a few small changes.
When you’re at home, keep your home at 68°F. This is about as low as most people can comfortably set their thermostat during chilly winter months.
When you’re away or sleeping, reduce temperatures to as low as 64°F. The World Health Organization suggests going no lower than that. This is especially important for high humidity areas here in coastal NC, as the mixture of humidity and cool temperatures can cause respiratory problems.
Best Fall & Spring Temperature Settings
This is where it gets a little tricky. Some years, Wilmington’s “fall” seems to last about 1 week and most of the season feels like an extension of summer. Whereas, spring temperatures can fluctuate from the 40s up to the 80s.
The best thing you can do is stay ahead of the weather forecast and try to match the outdoor temperature as closely as possible. When temperatures dip, set your thermostat to 68°F. But when the heat inevitably returns, keep it in the mid to high 70s.
If you have an infant, many sources recommend keeping your home (or at least the infant’s bedroom) between 68°F and 72°F.
And don’t forget about your pets! Cats are generally comfortable with temperatures as high as 85°F and as low as 70°F. However, dogs – like humans – have a much lower heat tolerance. If you have a dog at home, you’ll want to set your thermostat between 75°F and 78°F in the summer and 68°F to 72°F in the winter.
How do thermostat settings differ between houses, apartments, and commercial buildings?
Thermostat control works differently in a house than in an apartment complex. And it gets even more challenging to maintain ideal temperatures across commercial facilities.
While homeowners have complete control of their thermostat, this is not always the case for renters. To regulate the heating and cooling of large, multi-story apartment buildings, landlords often choose two setpoints: a minimum and a maximum. The renter can change the temperature of their unit within that range. This puts a limit on the amount of energy savings renters can earn.
For commercial buildings, business owners should follow the same guidelines for homeowners listed above. But, since you may be heating or cooling a larger space, your HVAC will have to work harder to maintain the right temperature.
How to keep cool with a higher temperature setting?
If 78°F just feels too HOT, try these cooling techniques:
Use ceiling fans and window coverings
Keep insulation up to snuff
Make sure your vents aren’t blocked
Practice smart cooking (avoid the oven and stove during the hottest times of the day)
Wear appropriate clothing
Drink plenty of water
Install your thermostat in the right location (on an interior wall out of direct sunlight)
Consider a programmable thermostat
Set your thermostat fan to “Auto”
Invest in a more energy-efficient heating and cooling system
Schedule regular HVAC service
How to stay warm with a lower temperature setting?
On the flip side, you can use the methods below to keep your body temperature in check on chilly winter days:
Wear lots of layers
Get some cozy blankets
Drink lots of warm beverages
Spend quality time upstairs (since warm air rises)
Keep your heart rate up
Maintain your home’s insulation
Reverse your ceiling fan blades to the “winter” setting
Trap in more humidity by not using your bathroom fan
Cook at home with your oven and stove
Schedule regular heating system service
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