The Great Thermostat Debate

Jennifer Dennard @JennDennard
October 16, 2017  | Last Updated: October 16, 2017


Summer is finally over, which means the great thermostat debate is wrapping up as well. Since we said “I do” 15 years ago, my husband and I have engaged in a sometimes epic battle over the thermostat during the summer months. He likes to keep the house extra chilly, setting it at 68 degrees. I tend to feel like a Popsicle at the slightest whiff of moving air, so I prefer a more comfortable 74. Never has six degrees of separation set me on such frostbitten edge!


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I have taken to wearing fuzzy socks, long sleeves, and sweats around the house during the summer just to ward off the chill. I keep blankets near our couches and in our cars – because the thermostat debate is waged even there! I’ll sneak around the house and reset all the thermostats if I know he’s going to be gone for the day, and quickly set them all back just minutes before he walks in the door. He’s occasionally noticed my attempts at subterfuge and conducted his own sneak attacks. It’s become downright comical, yet points to one of the hardest parts of marriage – compromise.

While I’m thankful that our longest running argument has been a mostly good-natured one about household temps, I’m well aware that our different temperature tolerances are actually rooted in science. Women have higher core body temperatures than men, which means that because our bodies are used to feeling warm, cooler air makes us feel colder than men. Studies have also shown that women’s hand and feet are a few degrees cooler than men’s; and we have slower metabolisms, meaning we heat up more slowly than our male counterparts.

Studies have also shown that, historically, office building temperatures are typically set to suit male preferences, which is why you so often see female employees donning sweaters in July while male staff loosen ties and lose their jackets.

Unfortunately, offering up that scientific reasoning as justification for my 74 degrees has not proved to be persuasive enough. We’ve at least come to a reasonable compromise of 72. As my husband and I can attest, there’s no easy answer to the great thermostat debate. As with most things in marriage, it’s all about the art of compromise and how subtle you can be about ticking the temp up a few degrees without anyone noticing. At the very least, it’s been a great excuse for me to pore through the winter clearance racks and stock up for the coming summer chill.

Thankfully, summer is over and our great thermostat debate can be tabled for the next seven months or so. In the meantime, it’s never too early to start gearing up for next year’s battle. Perhaps there’s a smart thermostat out there that will serve as mediator.


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