The Thermostat Wars

ThermostatThe area of the country I live in recently had its first frost of the season.  Awakening to find a thick layer of frost on my car’s windshield was a stark reminder that winter will soon arrive.

The first frost, falling leaves, and brisk temperatures also remind me it’s time to begin another season of the Thermostat Wars.

Many of you know about that perpetual battle to which I refer.   My wife likes it warm and toasty (“I have thin blood,” she says) and I break into a sweat at any temperature above 70 degrees.  In other households, it may be the exact opposite, with a husband preferring a balmy clime and a wife liking a bit of a nip in the home’s air.  

And so as the first frost arrives, so too does the first installment of the Thermostat Wars.   

I  am meticulous about checking the thermostat—to the point of obsessiveness.  When I go downstairs in the morning upon awakening, it’s one of the first things I check.  When I come home at lunch or at the end of the day, it’s often the first thing I look at when I walk into the home—even before greeting anyone!  

This morning, after I got up and went downstairs, I stopped by the thermostat to check its reading, remembering that I had set it at 62 for the overnight hours.  I was stunned to see that it registered 72.  I had been foiled! Someone had altered it during the night.  

My first thought was, “Who did this?!”  The second thought I had was, “Don’t they realize how much money we’re wasting, blasting the furnace at 72 degrees during the overnight hours?”

And it’s true.

A general rule of thumb is that for every degree Fahrenheit you set the thermostat back over an eight-hour period translates to a one percent savings in heating costs.  In fact, one Canadian study showed that two identical test homes with an 11 degree setback overnight and during work hours generated a 13 percent savings in natural gas and a two percent savings in electricity over the entire heating season.1

Savings will be critical for many Americans this season. The stat-gathering arm of the Energy Department, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (www.eia.gov), predicts costs for natural gas (up 3%) and propane (up 7%) will be higher this season from last winter.   If you use heating oil, EIA predicts an 8 percent increase over last winter’s prices.  In fact, EIA says that average household expenditures for heating oil will be higher than any previous winter on record.2   

I suspect there’ll be many more Thermostat Wars breaking out this winter across America. 

What about your household?  Are you engaged in Thermostat Wars of your own? Or have you called a truce?

1 http://www.nrc-cnrc.gc.ca/obj/irc/doc/pubs/rr/rr191/rr191.pdf

2 http://www.eia.gov/steo/

5 Comments on “The Thermostat Wars

  1. We definitely have this problem in our house. I’m on the thrifty side and my husband believes we have a heater for a reason:) I am definitely “thin-blooded.” If I ever feel the urge to increase the heat by “just one little degree,” I plug in my heating pad. The chilly feeling goes away and I don’t pay a truckload to heat up our home. If only I could get my husband to do this!

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  2. I have tried it: I like the heating pad idea. Keep working on that hubby of yours.

    Laura: you just made me sputter my Diet Pepsi all over my screen!

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