Ana Veciana-Suarez

Thermostat wars: Is it too cold? Or too hot? Depends whom you ask


“Is it cold in here?”

The Hubby regards me with narrowed eyes. In our household those are fighting words.

“It is cold in here,” I answer myself. “What do you have the air conditioning at?”

“Don’t touch the thermostat!” he hisses.

For a moment, in a fleeting flash of daring and rebellion, I consider darting across the room to turn up the temperature to something above its Siberia setting. Instead, I offer him my most winsome smile. Later, when his attention is diverted, I will sneak over to do the job. That won’t be the end of it, however, because by the time I’ve defrosted, he’ll reverse my effort.

It’s summer, oh scorching summer, truly the season of marital hostilities. The days are long, the heat insufferable — and our homes frigid. Across the land, warriors of the thermostat wars are in combat mode. There are no victors in this fight, no conquerors, only temporary front-runners who know their command of a few degrees can be as short-lived as a gust of wind.

Turn up. Turn down. Turn up, turn down. Repeat.

The thermostat wars seem to run along gender lines, with men favoring colder temperatures and women . . . well, women would simply like to feel their fingertips. Is that really too much to ask? Military research and athletic trainers have even reported that women are more susceptible to cold-related ailments, namely frostbite and hypothermia. So, in short, no, it’s not in our heads.

There are probably plenty of explanations for this discrepancy. Men are bigger. Men wear suits. Men exert more calories and therefore sweat more easily. Whatever the reason, I don’t like goosebumps or purple nailbeds.

Years ago I was told that “The Change,” with its corresponding hot flashes, would force me to switch sides. They lied. I still run colder than The Hubby. In fact, I run colder than my sons, and when the family gets together, it’s usually my daughter, daughters-in-law and me sniping about the chill.

Of course this war isn’t limited to households. The fronts are many, the tactics varied. The most either side can hope for is a draw. Maybe. Then again, if we expect our vapid lawmakers to compromise, to work out solutions to the country’s problems, shouldn’t we presume the same for ourselves?

A recent Wall Street Journal story reported that during air-conditioning season, “nothing is more divisive” in an office than temperature setting. The piece detailed guerrilla tactics that made me wonder how anyone is getting work done. People taped cardboard over air vents or messed around with locked thermostats. According to a survey of 452 facility managers by the Houston-based International Facility Management Association, more than 3 in 5 participants used either personal fans or heaters or donned fingerless gloves to deal with the office environment.

I get it, I get it. I have a blanket in a desk drawer at the newsroom and keep a gray hoodie in my car for those over-refrigerated restaurants and department stores.

These disputes, however, may be a thing of the past. There are now smartphone apps to manage thermostat disputes, including one that allows dwellers to request a warm-up, a cool-down or simply salute an “I’m comfy” to the office administrator. Comfy recently raised $12 million in venture funding.

That could’ve been my idea. But you know why I didn’t think of inventing what is sure to be a gold mine? I was too busy shivering!