What is the ideal room temperature?

Our physical wellbeing impacts all aspects of our lives, and our temperature is a part of that; feeling warm and comfortable affects our mental state, but our body temperature also affects how we sleep at night and how productive we are in a working environment – we all know how hard it can be to keep our eyes open in front of a warm and toasty log fire! We take a look at what the ideal room temperature is for different activities and seasons, along with what the average UK room temperature is throughout the year. 

What is the average UK room temperature?

The average UK room temperature is 18°C, which may sound low to those of you who like to crank the heating up in winter, but it’s still six degrees warmer than the average household was in the 1960s, which was closer to 12°C thanks to a lack of central heating and insulation in homes at that time. During the summer, our homes reach closer to 20°C but of course that’s thanks to the ambient temperature rather than personal choice. 

What is the ideal room temperature?

If your family struggles to agree on a comfortable temperature and you are here because you’ve been asking the question ‘What temperature should my house be?’ then you’re not alone. Depending on your metabolism, your clothing, and your activity levels, you may feel comfortable at a different temperature to other people – and that means that someone may be left feeling cooler or warmer than they would like. 

There are, however, some guidelines set out by various authorities on what the ideal room temperature is. The World Health Organisation, for example, recommend that a home for healthy and sensibly clothed people should be 18°C. The UK government recommend a temperature at home of 18-21°C, although the elderly and unwell do require higher temperatures than those of us in good health, and it is therefore much better (for your health and your wallet) to set your thermostat to 18°C and only turn it up one degree at a time if you are not feeling warm enough. 

A study carried out in 1996 by Richard Moore on the effects of temperature on our health shows some interesting results. At temperatures above 24°C we increase our risk of strokes and heart attacks, whilst seeing physical discomfort at temperatures over 21°C. However, a home temperature of lower than 16°C increases our risk of respiratory disease and, if we get below 12°C, the possibility of strokes and heart attacks increases again. It seems, then, that there is an ideal health-based temperature of between 18°C and 21°C as per WHO and UK government guidelines. It is important that your home has the right boiler installation and insulation measures to keep you and your family warm and healthy. 

Should all rooms be the same temperature?

Many central heating systems come with room thermostats and the ability to control the temperature in each area of the home. Those that have just one centralised thermostat can use Thermostatic Radiator Valves to regulate temperature room by room – and we can assume that a TRV setting of 3 facilitates a room temperature of approximately 20°C. 

Living rooms and areas where you are relaxing for the majority of your time at home should be set between 19-21°C for ultimate comfort. Bathrooms can be set a little higher than this to make the transition to and from bath or shower more comfortable – and many homes achieve this easily with the use of underfloor heating or heated towel rails in addition to the radiator. 

Bedrooms should be set at the bottom end of the temperature scale, at around 16-18°C. According to The Sleep Foundation, the ideal room temperature for a bedroom is 18.3°C; our bodies are programmed for a slight temperature dip in the evenings, and therefore turning down your thermostat as bedtime starts to come around may prepare us for sleep. A bedroom temperature that is set too warm can cause restlessness and can affect the amount of time spent in different sleep stages, leaving you feeling groggy and unrested in the morning. 

If you have been wondering about what the ideal room temperature is for young babies to sleep, however, this should be a little higher, at around 20.5°C – but not too high as this can increase the risk of sudden infant death syndrome. 

Government guidance for workplaces recommends a minimum temperature of 16°C, or 13°C if employees are undertaking physical work, though there are no legal requirements of employers around working temperatures.

Why do men and women seem to feel temperature differently?

If you’ve been involved in a battle of the thermostat, you will know what we mean; women seem to need an extra layer to keep warm and men often believe that the temperature could be turned down a degree or three. There are biological reasons for this, based mainly around our metabolic rate. Men have a higher metabolic rate than women, and given that our body’s metabolism is responsible for the production of energy and therefore heat, men feel warmer. Generally speaking, men have a greater muscle mass and therefore burn more calories in fuelling those muscles, including when they are at rest. 

As men and women age, this difference becomes less apparent as men begin to lose that extra muscle mass and find rooms colder than they used to. So, if you’re looking for a straightforward answer to what the ideal room temperature is, not only does it depend on the purpose of the room, but also, perhaps the gender and the age of the people using it.

If you are feeling the chill this season and are considering a new boiler installation, or if you feel that your central heating system isn’t managing to meet what is considered to be the ideal room temperature and perhaps needs a boiler service, get in touch with our friendly team.