Climate Hypercontrol: Calm Down with the HVAC

One of the thermostats in my Houston house, set for summer. Houston, Texas, May 19, 2014.

One of the thermostats in my Houston house, set for summer. Houston, Texas, May 19, 2014.

I polled my Twitter followers recently. I wanted to know at what temperature people in sweltering-summer Houston keep their air conditioning.

I prefer cool, crisp weather. Rarely do I turn on the heat in winter. Granted, Houston doesn’t get terrifically cold; leaving off the heat gives me indoor temperatures of sixty degrees or so in January and February. I love bundling up—even indoors—I sleep better in the lower temperatures, and in crisp weather my workouts go longer and harder and better.

But that’s the joy of winter.

Preferences aside, seems to me that we need to live in our environment’s ambient temperatures. Not only does it expend more energy—and money—to adjust indoor temperatures too far from the outdoor environment, I can’t believe it healthful to force our bodies to adjust to sudden dozen-degree temperature changes multiple times a day. Far better to let our systems adjust to the seasons, as nature intends its animals to do.

Climate control should take off the edge, sure, but not completely change reality.

In summer, I keep my air conditioning turned to eighty, mainly to suck out some of Houston’s prodigious humidity. As I turn in for the night, I lower the air conditioning in my bedroom to seventy-six, which helps me sleep a bit better. Upon awaking, I turn it back to eighty.

As the weather changes from spring to summer and fall to winter, I feel discomfort. I won’t lie. I overdress or underdress at first—in and out-of-doors. I don’t see the value or purpose in changing clothes when leaving the house.

After a week or two, I acclimate. The cold turns refreshing. The heat becomes bearable. I don’t need sweaters quite as heavy. In summer, I don’t sweat as much when I first leave the house—and I don’t freeze when I head indoors. Unless I visit a restaurant. Or an office.

Or someone else’s house.

Because, in my unscientific, unrandomized Twitter poll, I found myself the outlier. Most respondents set their climate-control systems to temperatures that they’d consider too cold in winter and too hot in summer.

Given that some of us grow accustomed to the outdoor cool or warmth—like me—these people’s climate control requires us to wear excessive layers in winter and carry around sweaters in August. Ugh.

Where do you set your climate control each season?