Switching to Celsius halts thermostat family feud

The 2014 battle of the thermostat is in full swing. Forget the Sochi Olympics, this competition is more brutal than Bob Costas’ persistent eye infection.

Here’s a rundown of the games so far: Hubby clicks down thermostat to freezing 64 degrees during the day, when we’re home. I wait until he’s out of view of the thermostat and then it up to manageable 68 degrees.

This lasts for a few hours until Hubby notices the heater rumbling to life and starts calculating the dollars in his head. He returns to the thermostat and yells, “We’re burning money! Put more clothes on!” to which I say something like, “I’m wearing two sweaters, what is this? Sochi?” and he storms off, muttering, “Would you rather pay Xcel or go on vacation?”

This is sort of ironic, because then I dream of Hawaii and how I wish I was there instead of wearing two sweaters and feeling a bit like Oliver Twist with an empty gruel bowl.

First-world problems, I know. But all joking aside, we wage this idiotic battle annually, usually from December to March. No doubt, couples across the frigid tundra have similar experiences. The question is, how can we seek peace and a comfortable temperature for all during the winter months?

Businesses have capitalized on offering individual preferences to spouses for years. We’ve become pretty picky as a society. “I want it the way I want it,” as Sally Albright says in response to Harry Burns’ claim that she’s high maintenance in “When Harry Met Sally.” Well, that’s pretty much how I feel about keeping the house temperature at a reasonable level.

I’m not sure where individual marketing for the separation of preferences started — maybe it was with firm, medium or soft pillows. Maybe it dates back to Goldilocks and the Three Bears. Mama Bear and Papa Bear clearly had different opinions regarding food temperature, chair comfiness and bed squishiness. The problem is, we all disagree on the definition of “just right.”

Look at the mattresses offering “dual comfort” — a couple can determine their individual firmness preferences, so no one fights over whether the pillow top is too mushy. Sleep is a very individual experience, and so is climate.

Auto manufacturers already have acknowledged this. Some vehicles have separate climate control, depending on whether you’re in the driver or passenger seat. Although, doesn’t the air kind of mix in the middle, and it’s a wash anyway? Individual seat warmers can keep your buns as toasty as you want, apart from the other passengers’ preferences. I suppose the difference here is that if I have my seat warmer on full-force, Hubby doesn’t see the bill for it at the end of the month.

I’ve developed a new tactic that has reduced the conflict in the thermostat war zone at our house lately: the metric system. Strangely, I was re-setting the thermostat (something we’ve also fought over for years, since the time/temperature preferences went all wonky at some point) and I fixed the clock, but now the temperature registers in Celsius. Like most Americans, I’m not that familiar with it aside from being forced to use it in science class. All I know is, zero degrees equals freezing. In Fahrenheit, Hubby’s preferences equal freezing.

Well, ignorance is bliss at our house, because 19 degrees Celsius feels pretty good to both of us. In fact, it’s right between our preferences in Fahrenheit, on which we could never agree. And at night, we’ve lowered the temperature to 15 degrees Celsius, which is also just fine.

Neither of us really knows what 15 or 19 feels like, so we agreed to just start there. Our lack of experience with a foreign system of measurement (which seems to work across the rest of the world) has fostered a peace treaty in the 2014 battle of the thermostat.

As for all our other preference battles, I blame Mama and Papa Bear for starting it all. They should have just slept in a cave like other bears, with a thermostat programmed in Celsius.

Erin McIntyre is an advanced master gardener, writer and Grand Valley native. Please email her at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) with story ideas or feedback.


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I’d suggest spending money to add more insulation to your house. It made all the difference in the comfort level in our circa 1979 house, and cut our heating bills as well.

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