Gender, Thermostats: Poll

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.]

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14 Responses to “Gender, Thermostats: Poll”

  1. Janet Says:

    before menopause…warmer then husband
    after menopause…..cooler then husband…..

  2. Heather Says:

    I’m already in your sample size, I expect. Straight up stereotype here. I like 70 but settle for 64. N likes it 5-10 colder than that.

  3. brushfire Says:

    Yeah, I like the house between 60 and 64. Sleeping areas around 50-52. In the summer I’m miserable if the temps are over 85, no matter what. But not having an ac unit, I just deal with whatever we’ve got.

  4. John Says:

    I suspect that there’s already some research on this out there somewhere, but…

    Wife bundles up heavily nearly all the time, which would suggest she feels the cold more, but is now leading the cold-house charge, so the jury is still out on that.

    In summer I can deal with the high temps better (and am a AC hater for the most part).

  5. J Says:

    I might be wrong, and I think we are in the sample size as well, but I think that I like it warmer in the winter than S and can stand it being much hotter in the summer. But we are keeping parts of the house 61-64ish when we want warmth this winter, and 55 or so for the parts we know we won’t be in, or just at night.

  6. girltuesday Says:

    i prefer my living quarters on the cooler side of the spectrum, but within a limited range: 60-65. anything under 60, i start to get cold. but anything over 68 makes me uncomfortable (like my office). alas we cannot afford (!) to keep our place at such luxurious temperatures, so we settle for 58-60. the boy would be happy if we “heated” in the range of 50-58. one thing we agree on is the night temperature: we prefer it around 50, which makes for great sleeping and a quick sprint to the shower in the morning!

  7. Johanna Says:

    I am not in your sample.
    And I am with J. She – reasonable, actually, beyond reasonable, “a good sport” as you say.
    You – crackpot
    and you cannot say men=normal, women=warmer than normal, because, dude, we of the boobs are 50% of the total, +/-2% not sure what age group you using. J.’s, statistically men may still outnumber, but yours, I think we win.

  8. Amanda Says:

    I have always thought that men are warmer because their bodies in general have a higher percentage of muscle than most women, and muscle puts off more heat.

  9. Deborah Says:

    Men tend to have better circulation than women, so women are more likely to have cold fingers and toes.

    I like it cooler in the house than he does, because I’m more physically active. He likes it cooler in the car when we are both sitting still.

  10. Mike Says:

    I just finished reading Swimming to Antarctica. The accomplishments of Lynne Cox–swimming 1 mile in 32 degree water and holding various long-distance cold water records–strongly suggests that women’s bodies are capable of adapting to cold better than men. It’s no secret that they have a higher tolerance for pain! I was about to go on with a few more stereotypes, but why ask for trouble? At any rate, preference and adaptability are two different things.

  11. Wife of College Roommate Says:

    So your survey left out “We are of different genders and agree on the temperature of the house” which we do. He just wears two more layers than I do.

  12. tm Says:

    I’m atypical for men: in summer I like it at least 76, same in winter but I’m too cheap to put it above 66 so I bundle up. Fortunately, here in Georgia, it’s a climate more conducive to my tastes.

  13. Gail Says:

    My husband would like the house to be warmer. He is complaining all the time about it. I love winter and don’t mind this drafty house one bit.

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