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Thursday, February 1, 2018

Thermostat Wars

Thermostat Wars

Jimmy of Jimmy’s Opinion @   recently left a comment that jogged my mind to this post.

My mom had a home on a creek on the Eastern Shore Md.  The Eastern Shore Md. may be one of the nicest places on earth in the Spring and the Fall.  It is pretty nice in summer as well, what with fishing, crabbing  and boating, but it can get hot with a capital HOT! 

They say it is not the heat, it is the humidity. On the Eastern Shore Md. It is both and it can be oppressive, especially at night.  My family often visited Mom in August, a month where the kids had no school and there was a lag in summer activities.  We loved it.  The crabbing was at its peak, the perch were biting and the house was air conditioned for comfort.

Except at night.

The HVAC system in mom’s house was high tech for when it was built in the fifties.  The vents to the second floor would shut down at a set temperature and open up when it needed heat or cooling.  This was great in conception, not so good in operation.

In the summer we were cautioned to keep the windows closed to not waste power as the air conditioner was on.  Now mom, as an elderly citizen, tended to like it warmer than us younger folks.  She would set the temp at night to 72…a little warm, but not bad when it was 90 outside.

When the downstairs reached 72, upstairs would still be about 80 with the vents wide open but no air a coming.  Eventually someone from upstairs would venture down stairs and turn the thermostat down to about 65.  This would make upstairs bearably, but mom started to shiver. 

In short order this would summon mom who was freezing to turn it up to 74.

The battle would go on all night with neither participant making their groggy adjustments aware that there was a battle at all.

It took a while, but eventually we figured the problem out.  The solution was to open all the windows upstairs to at least get some circulation and not die of oxygen deprivation along with heat exhaustion.  In the morning we would quick close the windows so as to appease the ever-frugal mom.

It was still too hot, but a little sweating at night was worth it for the crabbing, fishing and the boating all day.


  1. Having a little of that here with turning up the heat ... I say put on that thick, cuddly, plush robe and suffer through it. I tend to be cold, but 73 is warm enough. Just got our bill, Yikes!

  2. I take it your mum's bedroom was downstairs while you all slept upstairs? I'm glad you reached some sort of solution by opening windows.
    I remember once renting a house that had zoned airconditioning, so I would cool the living areas by day and switch the cooling to the bedrooms at night. Then one weekend my daughter and her hubby visited and slept in the lounge room and I'd turned the cooling to the bedrooms so they slept in a gradually warming room without saying anything until I woke at about 3am and realised what I'd done, so switched it to the 'full house' option.

  3. These days I understand the problem. Unfortunately I am the only one that matters, apart from the cat, so I can turn the heating up or down as it suits me. Not a happy situation but at least nobody else can complain.

  4. Haha! Seems as though if there at least two people in a room, there will be a difference of opinion about the temperature. Idyllic sounding summer, worth the sweaty nights!

  5. I remember those days. If you had an upstairs this would happen. We had an upstairs.

    You made me remember my dad wearing a sweater in July. The temps here are over 100 in July. He was cold. He was old.

    Have a fabulous day, Joe. ☺

  6. Sounds like when we visited mom and liked it HOT in the house in winter and he would have that oil/wood furnace just pumping the heat out and I'm here to tell you it was sickenly hot. I'd sneak down the hall and turn the heat back and within a few minutes dad would be shouting.."Who adjusted the heat?"

  7. Thank you for reminding me that living alone is not all that bad. I am the queen of the thermostat and luckily my company always come in RVs so they can set their own temps. Love company that brings their own house.

  8. My hubby and I both grew up in that area, so I know exactly what you're talking about. (And I still miss the idyllic days of fishing and crabbing... we'd clean the fish as we caught 'em, and tie their heads onto the crab lines...)

    Neither of us had air conditioning as kids, either. It, indeed, WAS hot with a capital H, and window fans offered the only respite.

    Fast forward to when we moved to Georgia and then went back to Maryland to visit our parents. By then, my parents had central air conditioning, but my in-laws did not. Their bedroom was downstairs, and we slept upstairs in my hubby's and sister's old bedrooms. It was so bloody hot up there one night, we dragged the mattresses downstairs and slept on the living room floor. At least, it was bearable down there, and our son stopped whining.

  9. This is why i am glad for window units and space heaters. You change the temperature right where you want it!

  10. My parents are both 89. Dad is on the warm side, Mom is always freezing. She's also mostly deaf, so doesn't hear when the heater is on. Once I walked into their house and felt like there was a thick wall of heat. The PG&E bill that month was $880! I called the utility company and they asked for a letter from their doctor saying they need more warmth in winter and more cool in summer. They get a good deal on their bill, but they still sneak behind each other to mess with the thermostat!

  11. My mom hated to turn on her heat or air conditioning. She'd sit in cut-off shorts, dabbing at her neck with a paper towel, in August, saying "I'm going to wait until the hot part of the summer before I turn on my air."

  12. My aunt and uncle had a similar tug-o-war with their electric blanket in the winter. They had a king size bed with an electric blanket with TWO controllers, one for each. Somehow they had the controller wires crossed under the bed. He got hot and turned his down, except it controlled her side. Then she got cold(er) and turned hers up, baking him. Finally the next day, after comparing horror stories, they figured it out. :)

  13. Opening the upstairs windows for circulation is about the only thing you could do, too bad that so much sweat was lost before this answer was found.

    We didn't have air conditioning when I was growing up, just box fans in the windows, a lot of sweat was lost there too with no other answer for us.

    Thanks for the shout out Joe.

  14. Wasn't it part of Jennifer Aniston's and Brad Pitt's wedding vows to "split the difference with you" when it came on settling on a comfortable temperature on the thermostat? Well, we all know how that turned out!

    We keep the thermostat at 79º when we're out, at 76º when we're home, and at 75º when we're sleeping. They guy who invented AC deserves a Nobel prize.


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