Ever been engaged in a thermostat war? One side likes to save money on heating and cooling, while the other wants to avoid pneumonia and heatstroke. I’ve waged a 30-year war with my wife over temperature control and was winning until recently.
I was taught from a young age to leave the thermostat at the same setting year-round. I don’t know what temperature my parents picked, but I suspect they set the needle at “frigid.” This might explain why I zipped up a heavy coat each time I came downstairs on winter mornings.
Later on, I thought that saving money was not worth having to wear winter gear inside. So, when I got my own home, I set the thermostat at “slightly chilly.” I forbade anyone from changing it from 65 degrees. That’s when the conflict began.
It wasn’t constant combat; it was more like a Middle-Eastern conflict, with periodic flare-ups. These skirmishes often occurred after a freakishly warm winter day. Unknown to me, my wife would dial it down to 50 degrees, because she wouldn’t want the furnace on with the windows open.
This was fine for a January thaw, but the next night I’d wonder why I was losing sensation in my extremities. Who the heck lowered the thermostat to “frigid”? I’d wonder.
So I’d lecture my wife about the importance of a steady setting and then retire triumphantly from the battlefield. These were some of the few arguments I could win – that is, until last week.
Sweltering from the heat-wave, we fired up the window units. We have a particularly powerful one that cools the downstairs, but also drowns out the TV and any human conversation. To escape the racket, I took shelter in the basement’s naturally cool environment.
I was chilling when I heard an ominous summons from my wife, “Riceman, I want to show you something.” I came upstairs. The AC was blasting, but it was uncomfortably warm, and the scent of overheated metal filled the air. She asked me to feel a radiator, which I did, and, as a result, left some skin behind.
The other radiators were also glowing. I could imagine the smoke coming out of our chimney like a steam engine climbing a mountain pass. We couldn’t figure it out until I noticed the AC was blowing across the dining room, directly at the thermostat. I felt the cold metal and discovered a thin layer of frost. The thermostat obviously thought we had moved to Siberia and automatically kicked on the heat while the AC was running full blast.
Wise commanders know when to withdraw from the battlefield and I was in full retreat toward the basement. My wife proposed simple terms of surrender: From now on, we’d leave it on “glacial” during the summer.