Temperatures continue dropping. The first frost covers the jack-o-lanterns leftover from Halloween. Parents search for mittens and scarves buried deep within their closets to give to kids on their way to school. Heavier blankets line the bed. The thermostat becomes ever more enticing.
Everyone has a different preference for the ideal indoor temperature. Humans generally function best at 70 degrees Fahrenheit, but very few people will risk the utility bill that comes along with maintaining such a balmy, indoor climate. However, setting the thermostat too low can negatively affect human health — especially those of infants and the elderly— not to mention putting indoor plumbing at risk.
Gender also matters. On average, men have a higher muscle mass than women. Muscle burns more energy, so men tend to have a higher metabolic rate and feel warmer. Women, on the other hand, tend to feel colder — not just a matter of comfort. Studies suggest that women demonstrate better cognitive functioning when performing in warmer temperatures. Men, consequentially, perform worse.
Unsurprisingly, the thermostat becomes a battleground. One study reports that 75% of couples in the United States argue about setting the thermostat, and 64% secretly change the temperature behind their partner’s backs. Most Americans even admit they feel angry when they discover that their partner had changed the temperature in the home without their knowledge.
So how can someone set the thermostat to reflect the different ages and genders within the household? And how can someone maximize energy savings within those parameters? With so many factors to consider, what represents the best home temperature? The answer: 68 degrees Fahrenheit. Science dictates little noticeable difference in comfort if one lowers the thermostat to 68 degrees. Furthermore, every one-degree temperature decrease can lead to a one percent increase in utility savings.
Turning the temperature down has more benefits than just cost savings. Are you worried about all the extra calories consumed during the holidays? Colder temperatures while sleeping — positively impacts metabolic activity. One should, however, be mindful of sharing this point with their partner.
A relationship counselor might suggest a compromise. If one partner prefers the house at 64 degrees, and the other prefers it at 70 degrees, wisdom dictates the house remains at 67 degrees. Or, keep the house at 70 degrees throughout the day and 64 degrees throughout the night.
Good thermostat maintenance can yield potential savings. Turning the temperature down by a few degrees at night can lead to noticeable energy savings. Nonetheless, one might consider spending a little extra on his or her partner’s Christmas gift this year — a good, thick sweater can increase a human’s temperature by four degrees.
Once a couple agrees on their heating plan, a programmable thermostat can provide significant benefits. First, it can automatically adjust indoor temperatures at night — a habit someone might overlook after a few too many glasses of eggnog. It can also be programmed to turn on right before waking up in the morning or returning home from work — thus avoiding the chilly discomfort of waiting for a heating system to kick on. And finally, it mitigates the need to be sneaky with the thermostat, helping to avoid those heated holiday arguments.