How warm are the French on average during the winter?

The government is pushing the French to install an ambient temperature of 19°C. astrosystem / stock.adobe.com

While the government has been advising for several days to have an indoor temperature of 19 degrees to save energy, the French have slightly higher heating habits, according to the latest studies.

It has become a mantra. A few days ago, the government began a large communication campaign with a view to next winter. Period during which the energy crisis threatens the French with cuts if gas and electricity supplies are not sufficient. Objective: to try to convince them to keep an interior temperature at 19 degrees. And this, in order to save money in view of the rise in gas or electricity prices. Without these restrictions, the country will have to “move towards something more coercive, a reinforced sobriety plan, even rationing”, in the words of Emmanuel Macron, at a press conference on Monday. So what about the French? Will they have to change their habits a lot to face the current energy challenges? Not really, according to the latest surveys on the matter.

An Ifop study for the hydrocarbon company Eni, published in November 2018, showed that the average temperature of French people in their homes was…20.2 degrees. That is 1.2 points more than the government’s recommendation. 74% of respondents placed themselves between 19 and 21 degrees, the rest were between two “extreme”: 15 and 25. In its study, the institute also mentioned the “fans of freshness at home” : 9% of French people like to live between 15 and 18 degrees. They won’t need to make any effort this winter. Unlike the 17% of French “heat addict”, who have a home temperature between 22 and 25 degrees. The latter are the first concerned by the repeated calls from the executive.

Difference Between Male and Female

Also note a slight difference between men and women. If the former prefer to live around 20 degrees, the latter are satisfied around 20.4. The youngest (18-24 years old) meanwhile, were also a little above the average: 20.6 degrees. But for Engie, the optimal ambient temperatures also depend on the room. In order to save energy, the French industrial group claimed in 2021 that the living room, dining room and kitchen should be in an atmosphere of 19 degrees. If the bedroom should be 16 degrees, the bathroom can vary between 17 and 22 degrees.

But according to Ifop, the desired indoor temperatures would not follow the local climate in a decreasing manner. In other words, when the inhabitants of the PACA region wanted to maintain an atmosphere of 20.6 degrees, the Bretons wanted to keep an environment of 19.8 degrees in their homes. Way to install an indoor temperature that is closest to the regional climate. In its recommendations, Engie indicates that “reducing heating by 1 degree lowers energy consumption by 7% and vice versa”. And to add: “During the night, in unused living rooms or in the event of absence during the day, 16 degrees is sufficient or even 12°C, in the event of prolonged absence…”

If some will have to save money in the coming months, it is not sure that the French will follow these recommendations to the letter. An OpinionWay study published in 2016 indicated that 56% of French people were cold in winter despite using their heating. On the positive side, only 1 in 5 respondents increased the indoor temperature. 80% of French people dressed warmer or wrapped themselves in a plaid if not a blanket.

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