Heating: what temperature should each room be?

Heating accounts for around 70% of energy consumption in the home. But how should we go about heating our homes properly? What tips and tricks are there for reducing heating costs?

What temperature does it need to be outside before we turn the heating on?

As outside temperatures get chillier, we start needing to warm up our homes. But when should we be turning the heating on? This depends, among other things, on when your house was built. In old buildings with old windows and poor insulation, a lot of heat energy is lost through the external walls. In more modern buildings with good insulation, this energy is kept inside and you can go longer without having to switch on the heating.

When it comes to heating a building, there are two main things to consider: what is the building’s energy rating and what temperatures do you require inside?


Built before 1977                                         15–17°C

1977 – 1995                                                  14–16°C

Built after 1995                                            12–15°C
(according to the WSchV or EnEO energy standards)

Low-energy house                                       11–14°C

Passive house                                              9–11°C


What temperature should each room be?

Not every room needs to be heated to the same temperature. In rooms you spend a lot of time in like the kitchen and the living room, the ideal temperature is around 20°C. In rooms that are empty during the day, like the hallway and the bedroom, and in other rooms that are used infrequently, 18°C is sufficient. The recommended temperature for bathrooms is 22°C, however.

Heat less – save more

If you keep your whole house heated during the winter, you’ll be looking at steep energy bills in summer. However, there are a few simple measures you can take to save energy and significantly reduce your heating costs. It’s worth bearing in mind that every extra degree requires 6% more heat energy.

Heating: what temperature should each room be?

Mistakes to avoid:

1. Airing a room correctly is as important as heating it correctly. However, leaving windows permanently ajar is a common mistake. Airing a room for too long not only means losing unnecessary heat; it also risks cooling down the walls and allowing mould to develop. A better approach is to fully open the window and allow the room to air properly for a few minutes.

2. Switching off the heating when you leave the house in the morning and turning it up high when you get back in the evening is also a bad idea. Reheating a room that has completely cooled down consumes a lot of energy. Instead, it’s better to keep the room at a constant temperature.

3. Placing items of furniture directly in front of the radiator is another error that many people make. This doesn’t allow the radiator to ‘breathe’, meaning that the heat can’t be distributed around the room and goes to waste.

4. You may not need to close your curtains and blinds during the day – but this makes it all the more important that you close them at night. Failing to do so unnecessarily wastes energy.

Underfloor heating vs radiators

Standard radiators use convection heating, while underfloor heating uses radiant heating. But what’s the difference between convection and radiant heating?

With convection heating, the air is heated by the radiator and then rises. Radiant heating, on the other hand, directly heats the objects and people in the vicinity.

But which form of heating is better?

The advantage of convection heating is that the heat can be felt quickly and spreads rapidly through the room. The disadvantage is that it creates different temperature zones within the space. The warm air rises and the cold air sinks.

The advantage of radiant heating is that the air in the room is gently warmed and distributed. As a result, the humidity level remains the same and heat eddies rarely form. The room temperature will also feel warmer than it is, as the heat is transferred directly to your body. There is a disadvantage, however: while radiant heating is generally found to be more pleasant than convection heating, it takes longer to kick in.

The heating season

There are no legal stipulations regarding how warm a property needs to be – though tenants have the right to a home that is appropriately heated. The usual heating season in Switzerland runs from mid-September to mid-May. As soon as the outside temperature drops below 14°C, however, landlords are required to switch the heating on.