It's a really good idea to curb energy usage. It's good for the planet, and it's good for our household budgets. But there is a limit, and US government recommendations have gone well past it -- at least as far as my limit is concerned. According to an article at al.com, the federal EnergyStar program recommends that we keep our thermostat set to 78 degrees during the day. That's during the summer!
We actually keep ours set to about 76 during the day, but that's when we're not at home! And that still seems warm to me, because our dog is home and she's ... um, spoiled. The federal guidelines actually suggest we bump up the thermostat to 85 when we're away. Okay, that's fine... if no one is there to suffer through it.
But the worst of their recommendations is for nighttime. The guidelines say your thermostat should be set at 82 degrees while you sleep. Have you ever tried sleeping when it's 82? We actually turn the thermostat cooler at night, because it's easier to sleep in a cool environment. In fact, the EnergyStar guidelines run counter to what people need for optimal sleep -- which according to sleep.org is a temperature in the 60s.
The Department of Energy also recommends a good ceiling fan, which can allow you to bump up the thermostat around four degrees without any noticeable difference. In other words, 76 degrees with a fan should feel about as good as 72 degrees without a fan.
The winter guidelines are a bit less oppressive, at 68 degrees while we're at home and awake. That may seem cold, but it's easy to get yourself warm with a comfy blanket. And finally, their sleep guidelines (about 66) fit within the range of optimal sleeping conditions.
We get it, A/C uses a lot of energy; and July was the hottest month in human history, or at least as far back as any records go. So we need to curb the consumption. But how about bumping up the thermostat a degree, or two? I'll compromise: 73 degrees.