Marriage and the Annual Battle for the Optimal Thermostat Setting

Despite the conventional wisdom, several years ago there was a study that found that opposites really don’t attract — at least when it comes to successful relationships.

If that’s so, then perhaps my marriage is on borrowed time because sometimes I feel like the Honeybee and I have very little in common. For example, she’s an extrovert, I’m an introvert. She can tear it up on the dance floor, and I’ve got two left feet. She’s gorgeous; I’m often mistaken for Quasimodo.

Then again, one of our biggest philosophical differences revolves around the best thermostat setting.

For example, in the summertime, I prefer the thermostat to be set at 81 degrees Fahrenheit during the day; she likes it at 78 F.

Thankfully, we’ve managed to keep the peace by compromising, as all good marriages do — so in the summer, the thermostat is always set at 78 F.

5 Simple Tips for Minimizing Your Energy Bills

Of course, comfort is highly subjective. Still, that didn’t stop Consumer Reports from declaring that the ideal waking-hour thermostat temperature setting when you’re at home is 78 F in the summer and 68 F in the winter.

But no matter what temperature you ultimately decide to set your thermostat to, there are several things you can do to make sure you save as much as you can on your home heating and cooling bills.

1. Learn how to use a programmable thermostat. According to Energy Star, folks who know how to properly configure their programmable thermostat by regulating the temperature based upon whether they’re at home, asleep, or at work, can save as much as $180 annually. Unfortunately, for whatever reason, most people don’t.

2. Maintain your heating and cooling system. Duct leaks are among the costliest — yet easy to fix — heating and cooling system problems, so make sure your vents and ducts are clean and occasionally inspected for leaks that can lower the efficiency of your system. Change your air filters too with the change of seasons. And if you’ve got a room or two you rarely use, shut their doors and close off the vents.

3. Regulate the amount of sunlight entering your home. In the summertime, close blinds and drapes during the day to keep sunshine — and the heat — out of your home. In the winter, open south-facing window covers; that sunlight can still warm your house an extra degree or two. For even greater energy savings, replace your blinds and drapes with window shutters. We did about six years ago and I can honestly say they are, by far, one of the best things I ever bought.

4. Keep your fans running all year long. Most people know that a fan can work wonders in helping to keep a home cool, but they can also be used to keep your home warmer in the winter — thereby reducing your energy bill. When it gets cold outside, you can push warm air towards you that naturally collects at the ceiling by running the fan “backward” (clockwise) at low speed.

5. Seal your home. Check the caulk and weather stripping around all your doors and windows to ensure that your home is free from leaks and cold drafts.

It’s That Time Again …

A few weeks ago I reprogrammed our thermostat for the upcoming winter.

The Honeybee, in no uncertain terms, let me know that she preferred the thermostat set at 70 F during the cold season. On the other hand, I’m one of those folks who likes it a bit toastier at 72 F.

I bet you can guess what our thermostat is set at right now. (Hint: it’s a number that’s nicely divisible by ten.)

Photo Credit: Pauly March


  1. 3


    We have the same exact temperature discussion in our house! Another hint to save money: we had extra insulation added to our attic last year. It has made a big difference in our heating/cooling bill.

    • 4

      Len Penzo says

      You’re right! And that is a great tip. The only reason I left it off my list was because I wanted to keep my tips limited to the easiest ones to implement. :-)

  2. 5

    Erin says

    Tracee is right. You are a smart man to listen to Honeybee!

    I’m a bit surprised to see in the poll your running this week that a lot of people set their winter thermostat temp to 67 or below.

    I set mine to 69 in the winter and I thought THAT was kind of extreme!

    Summer time though I like my house cooler, so I keep it at 76.

    • 6

      Len Penzo says

      I’m a bit surprised at the results so far too, Erin. As I am writing this there are 147 votes and “67 or lower” is just nudging out 68 (29% to 28%). I guess a lot of people out there can tolerate the cold better than us!

  3. 9

    Jerry K. says

    I second your recommendation for window shutters. I noticed a big difference. Our house was warmer in winter and cooler in summer after we replaced our blinds.

    As for thermostat setting, I set mine to 70 in winter and 78 in summer.

    • 10

      Len Penzo says

      I am a HUGE proponent of window shutters. They not only make the house look refined, they really help control the temperature in the house.

  4. 11


    Do you have an attic fan? I’ve considered tossing one in since we’ve got an extensive attic, but I don’t see how adding an electric fan is going to pay for itself in energy costs. Maybe if it’s solar?

    Wife sets the temperature for us too, haha!

    • 12

      Len Penzo says

      Yes, I installed an attic fan about five years ago. I didn’t really notice any significant energy savings from it though.

  5. 13

    Diane says

    I just let my husband set it (at 72), then as I pass by, I readjust it to 69 when he is not looking. When the house cools down a bit, and before he starts to wonder why,I simply readjust it back to around 71 to let it warm back up again.
    He just thinks it is the normal cycling of the furnace. Keeps the peace!!!!!!!

    • 14

      Len Penzo says

      LOL! Very tricky, Diane. Thanks for sharing that with us. I promise I won’t say anything to your hubby.

      (I wonder if I could get away with that? Probably not.)

  6. 15


    Setting the thermostat at 78 during the summer when no one is home and 65 during the winter. When we are home, the thermostat is programmed to 75 during the summer and 68 during the winter. My utility bills (electric & gas) is less than $65 per month.

    • 16

      Len Penzo says

      75 is way too cool for me in the summer. Way too cool. As I mentioned, I can’t really handle 78 either, but I put up with it.

      (You know, I’m really toying with employing a bit of Diane’s subterfuge.)

    • 18

      Len Penzo says

      Aww, thanks, Mindimoo. :-)

      (And since you put it that way, I’m going to be good and not change the thermostat when the Honeybee’s not looking.)

    • 20

      Len Penzo says

      Absolutely. According to US Dept of Energy, you can save between 5 – 15% on your energy bill by setting your thermostat back 10 to 15 degrees while you are away. That represents a savings of as much as 1 percent off your bill for every degree you scale back (assuming you setback the thermostat 15°F), and a half-percent off your bill on the low end (10°F).

  7. 23


    I forgot who said this, but I recall reading a book in which the author describes compromising with his wife over the number of children they had:

    “She wanted four, and I wanted one. So we compromised on four.”

  8. 24

    David says

    We don’t have A/C so the summer it goes to whatever (usually around 72ish) but during the winter we have it at 65 during active time and 60 while sleeping.

  9. 25


    Haha, I liked your idea of “compromising”. :)

    I’ll let the temperature drop to 64F during the day and let it hover around 66-68F, but when we watch a movie or something and want to be more comfortable, then I’ll boost it up to 72. I prefer the heat over the cold so I don’t run AC until the temperatures start to surpass 85 or so.

    Unfortunately the SO is not keen on the idea of blinds due to visual clutter, so there is too much heat gain/heat loss to the windows.

    • 26

      Len Penzo says

      That form of “compromise” has its pluses and minuses, to be sure.

      As for me, I actually think drapes and hanging blinds look more “cluttering” than shutters. Shutters are very clean, IMO. But that’s just me.

  10. 27

    David C. says

    I remember years ago when my mother and father fought over the thermostat .This was because menopause had set in and hot flashes were a common occurrence. I would visit and chuckle at Dad being bundled up while Mom was in a tee shirt. Dad told me my time would come.

    Twnety years later and I had my own battle of Hoth going on.


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