Conversation this morning (house temp 45º):
J: When are you going to the office?
Me: Not– working from home today.
J: Great! Then you can light a fire!
Me: Hm, maybe. Why, when are you going to class?
J: In an hour.
Me: Well, that’s not enough time for it to warm up in here anyway.
J: Oh, pleeeease just promise me it will be in the 50’s by the time I get home tonight!
I think people reading these pages picture J. and I in perfect harmony about this cold-house thing, but that’s a phony image. Like couples everywhere, we bicker a bit about the temperature in the house. True, the “set point” around which we bicker may be 10 or 15 degrees lower than “normal”, but the process is recognizably similar. I’m to the point where 48-50º is fine for protracted periods. I’ll let J. speak for herself, but my guess is that she’d choose 5-10º higher. Please note that this still makes her an exceptionally good sport, in my book.
The stereotype, of course, is that men like/tolerate colder (or as we call it, “more normal”) house temperatures than women. People have written news stories on the topic, and the Times (UK) asserts there are physiological underpinnings. Certainly among the couples I know with widely divergent temperature preferences, it is the man who likes it colder– but it’s not a large sample size. So I’m interested in feedback from readers as to whether this is just a sexist stereotype, or whether there is something to it. In your house, who likes it warmer? By how much? And a potentially illuminating question– do same-sex couples and have just as much disagreement about the thermostat as different-sex couples?
Also (assuming there is any basis to this all to begin with), is it that women prefer it warmer per se, or that they have a narrower range of comfort? For example, in hot places– where the question is A/C instead of heat– do men still prefer it cooler, or does the disagreement reverse, with women wanting to turn the A/C down to 68, but men wanting it at 74??
[Addendum: I managed to titrate the fire so that it was 50.2º when J. got home. I am a man of my word. But I'm not sure she was entirely amused.]