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Published on 21st October 2022

Winter is coming – what is a healthy temperature in the home?


The temperature is falling and with months of news headlines of fuel poverty, I’ve been thinking about what it means beyond the stats.

A quick google finds fuel poverty defined as using over 10% of your disposable income on heating your home. For most people, that’s a hard calculation to make even if you have all the numbers at hand to do that maths. It also doesn’t tell me what I should be setting my home temperature at.

As an analyst at heart, I automatically ask, “well, what temperature is that based on, or is it just being able to switch on the heating at all?”. How ‘poor’ do you need to be to be fuel poor?

It has less to do with income than I thought and far more about the quality of housing stock. In Europe, the fuel poverty definition talks about heating to an ‘adequate temperature’. I immediately google – “adequate indoor temperature” – this will at least help me settle the thermostat battle in my own house.

I find several companies reference WHO guidelines which apparently date back to 1987 stating 21 degrees in the living room and 18 degrees in all other rooms but 21 degrees for elderly. I also find out that 18 degrees is the minimum legal temperature in schools.

From having recently moved house, I know EPC (Energy Performance Certificates) and home insulation are not just a work thing anymore.  Energy efficiency in all it’s guises is seeping into every day life, from timing the washing, domestic battery storage for PV and heat pumps to draught excluders and loft insulation. Or maybe that’s just what people like to talk to me about when I say I work in the Energy industry or mention it’s colder in the suburbs.

Whilst Liz Truss’ new energy schemes provide blanket support for the winter ahead with £400 for every household and an Energy Price Guarantee capping prices for domestic use. The Energy Bill Relief Schemes for Businesses are still being designed and will play a big part in the health of the economy. There’s big changes ahead for the energy industry.

For now, whilst I’ve been targeted by marketeers for a new front door and thermal curtains, I’ll stick to knowing that 19-21 degrees is a good temperature in the home and sign up for the negotiation event on 26th October, I think I’ll need it.

Lillian Philip. WUN Advocate and Senior manager of Business intelligence, EDF


Source: https://www.euro.who.int/__data/assets/pdf_file/0008/97091/E89887.pdf https://neu.org.uk/advice/cold-weather-and-classroom-temperature-england