What Temperature Should You Leave a Vacant House in Winter in the UK

When leaving a house vacant during the winter months in the UK, it’s crucial to maintain an optimal temperature. This precaution not only prevents potential damage to the property but also ensures heating costs are kept to a minimum. Setting the right temperature helps avoid common winter woes like frozen pipes or an overly hefty energy bill.

This article guides homeowners on finding the perfect balance, ensuring their property remains safe and cost-efficient during the cold season.

Understanding the Risks of Incorrect Temperature Settings

Setting the thermostat too low in a vacant house can lead to frozen pipes, which may burst and cause extensive water damage. Additionally, insufficient heating can contribute to dampness and mould growth, deteriorating indoor air quality, and the property’s structural integrity.

Conversely, excessively high temperatures result in significant energy waste and unnecessary heating expenses. Understanding these risks is essential for maintaining your property effectively during winter, preventing costly repairs, and ensuring energy efficiency.

Factors Influencing the Ideal Temperature Setting

Several factors influence the ideal temperature setting for a vacant house in winter:

  • Insulation quality: Homes with better insulation retain heat more effectively, requiring less energy to maintain a steady temperature.
  • Duration of vacancy: The length of time a house will be vacant plays a crucial role in determining the optimal temperature setting. Shorter vacancies might require a higher temperature than more extended periods.
  • External temperatures: The typical winter temperatures in the UK vary, influencing how much heating is necessary to prevent internal freezing.

Considering these factors helps homeowners set a temperature that protects the property while optimizing energy use.

Recommended Temperature Range

For vacant houses in the UK during winter, a recommended temperature range is between 12°C to 15°C (54°F to 59°F). This range is optimal for reducing the risk of frozen pipes and dampness while minimizing heating costs. It strikes a balance between preventing internal damage to the property and being energy-efficient. 

Keeping the temperature within this range ensures the house remains above freezing point, safeguarding against the cold’s detrimental effects without incurring unnecessary energy expenditure.

Additional Tips for Protecting Your Vacant House in Winter

  • Insulation improvements: Enhancing insulation in critical areas, such as loft spaces and around windows, can significantly improve heat retention, reducing heating needs.
  • Use of timers and smart thermostats: Implementing these technologies allows for precise control over the heating schedule, maintaining the optimal temperature efficiently and remotely.
  • Plumbing considerations: To prevent freezing, consider leaving faucets slightly open to allow a drip or completely shutting off and draining the water system if the house will be vacant for an extended period.
  • Regular property checks: Arranging for someone to inspect the property periodically can help identify and mitigate potential issues early, such as leaks or security breaches.


Maintaining an optimal temperature in a vacant house during the UK winter is crucial for protecting the property from damage and managing heating costs effectively. The recommended temperature range of 12°C to 15°C balances property protection with energy efficiency. Enhancements in insulation, intelligent heating controls, prudent plumbing practices, and regular checks are additional strategies that complement temperature management. Homeowners are encouraged to consider these guidelines and adapt them to the unique characteristics of their property, ensuring safety and cost-effectiveness during the colder months.