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What temperature should I set my air conditioner to for heating in winter?

Even if you normally cope well with winter temperatures, there has likely been a time when you have found yourself coming in from the cold, shivering and miserable. While this could mean piling on the jumpers or snuggling under a warm blanket, this is not always a practical solution and turning up the heating may seem like the best option. So how do you know what heating temperature to set your air conditioner through the winter months? It’s all about finding the right balance for both your comfort and health.

Why is it important to keep warm in winter?

Each year as autumn arrives we start to make changes to our wardrobe and our surroundings to prepare for cooler temperatures. Being cold is not only uncomfortable, it can also have implications for both physical and mental health.

Comfort

There is a state of mind known as ‘thermal comfort’ which expresses how comfortable you are with the temperature of your environment. Thermal comfort varies between individuals and depends on environmental and personal factors. When you are at your optimal level of thermal comfort you will feel more energised, be more productive and have a better attitude. Physical comfort is also a factor, as it is common for your muscles to tense when you are cold, causing further stress, pain and tiredness.

Health

Winter is cold and flu season and if the temperature in your home is too low, you may become susceptible to any viruses that are going around. Whilst this may just be mild cold symptoms for an otherwise healthy person, there can be serious consequences for babies, the elderly or those with certain health conditions. The cold can also exacerbate other health issues, particularly in these vulnerable groups.

For some people cold weather can cause them to overeat as they seek food as a form of comfort when they feel cold; this can have its own health implications. Being chilly at night can also affect your general health. If your sleep cycle is affected then you may not have sufficient rest and will have less energy for the day ahead. 

What is a healthy temperature to set your air conditioner to for heating?

The general recommendation is that the temperature in your home should be between 18 and 22°C. This range is comfortable for most people and will be the most efficient use of energy. However, if there is a baby or older person living in the home, the temperature should be kept at the higher end. It is also important to understand that the way in which an air conditioner heats a room is different from the radiators that most of us our used to. To reach the right level of comfort you may find that the thermostat on you AC needs to be set at the higher end of this recommendation.

Finding the right temperature for your home in winter is not always easy, particularly if you live with others, so the temperature you set your heating to will ultimately depend on finding a happy medium that it is agreeable to everyone.  

What happens if your air conditioning temperature is set too low?

Setting the thermostat too low on your air conditioner means that the ambient temperature may never reach a level where you are really comfortable. Being cold has many implications that can impact your day to day life.

Studies into the performance of basic office tasks have shown that productivity levels reduce as temperatures decline and that productivity is highest at around 21-22°C.  This research indicates that working in cool interiors can make it more difficult for people to concentrate, resulting in a drop in work efficiency.

Being cold can also seriously impact your health. Anything from the common cold and increased blood pressure to pneumonia or a heart attack, can be the result of living in a cold house. Those with an existing condition such as circulatory problems, diabetes, arthritis or asthma are particularly at risk and being cold can aggravate the symptoms, affecting not only physical health but also having an impact on mental wellbeing. 

A further concern of a cold home is the risk of condensation forming, which, if not properly dealt with, can lead to damp and mould. Mould can cause allergies and respiratory problems, so needs to be prevented by appropriate home heating and ventilation.  

What happens if your air conditioning temperature is set too high?

The flip side of the coin when it comes to heating your home, is making it too warm. Whilst it might be tempting to come in from the cold, turn up the thermostat and walk around in shorts and t-shirt, not only will this be costing you unnecessary money, it is not good for your health.

Just as working in the cold can affect productivity, the same research has shown that working in a warm environment can reduce work efficiency by up to 10%. Being too hot can cause us to become drowsy, affecting our concentration during the day and impacting our ability to sleep at night.

Warm indoor air over a prolonged period can cause dry skin and is especially problematic for those with a pre-existing condition such as eczema or psoriasis. Respiratory problems are also a concern as without good ventilation, the air in your home can become stale and stuffy. Breathing in heated indoor air over a length of time can dry out your nose making it a better breeding ground for viruses and is a contributing factor for the high increase in colds and flu through the winter season.

As with being too cold, the elderly and the very young are more at risk from health issues caused by homes being too hot, so it is important not to let temperatures get to much higher than the recommended 22°C.

What are the benefits of air conditioning heating features

When considering the temperature to set your AC to for heating, there are other features and functions found on many modern air conditioners that can improve your overall comfort in the winter months. Some may also help relieve health concerns that come with the colder weather.

  • Air purification – air conditioners may have air purifying functions, particularly beneficial for those prone to allergies. Some can also capture viruses, improving the overall indoor air quality.
  • Humidification and dehumidification – these features ensure that while staying warm, the air also stays at a suitable humidity level, helping prevent issues with either dryness or damp.
  • Temperature distribution – utilising the Coanda effect, specially designed louvres on Daikin air conditioners direct airflow for better temperature distribution around the room, ensuring all the air is warmed evenly.
  • Thermal and motion sensors – sensors automatically switch the air conditioner to energy-saving mode if a room is empty. They can also direct airflow away from people as well as sensing areas of uneven temperature so that airflow can be adjusted as needed.

 

Daikin has a choice of air conditioners that are good for heating as well as cooling. The Daikin Stylish and Perfera Floor Standing air conditioners are just two examples of ACs with heating specific features and functions. By utilising the innovative technology and efficiency of these modern air conditioners to control both temperature and airflow, achieving a comfortable and healthy temperature in our home in winter is made easy.

Learn more about using air conditioners as a home heating solution here

Not sure where to start? 

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Alternatively, take a look at our Home Solutions Hub to find out everything you need to know about heating, heating with air conditioners and heat pumps.

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