Ask Amy: Couple Feels the Heat on Air Conditioning

By Amy Dickinson | July 12th, 2021

To air condition or not to air condition?


Senior man loves air conditioning Image

Dear Amy: My partner and I are two middle-age men that met each other later in life.

One of us (me) loves air conditioning, especially since most of the places I’ve lived in my life lacked it. My partner doesn’t like air conditioning, and only uses it when it’s blistering hot outside.

When I moved into his house, I paid for the installation of central air conditioning. He paid for the solar panels on the roof, which more than covers the electricity we use.

But we seem to fight constantly over the thermostat setting. He’s cold when I set it to my preferred temperature, I’m hot when he sets it to his.

I say it’s easier for him to throw on a flannel shirt and a pair of sweatpants than it is for me to suffer the indignity of walking around the house in my underwear.

It seems a bit petty to complain about it, since otherwise we are very compatible, but we can’t seem to find a happy place in this conflict.

Can you think of an equitable way to solve this problem?

– Sweating in San Diego


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Dear Sweating: People who heat their homes during the winter tend to keep their indoor temperature between 68 and 72 degrees (unless you are my sister, who tells all visitors to her Maine home to keep on their down jackets).

However, if you set your air conditioner at a wintertime comfy 68 to 70 degrees, you’d be quite cold because air conditioners shoot out streams of freezing air (setting it below 70 could actually cause your AC system to freeze).

The U.S. Department of Energy recommends setting your AC thermostat at 78 degrees, although somewhere between 74 and 78 might be best for you. You can decrease humidity by using a dehumidifier and use ceiling fans to circulate that chilled air.

I maintain that many people are influenced by the number they see on the thermostat. A way to test this would be for you and your partner to trade off setting the thermostat “blind,” where one of you can’t see the number on the thermostat. You might find a sweet spot where you are both basically comfortable.

But let’s just stipulate that you and he have radically different body temperature needs. Ideally, you should shoot for him wearing a long-sleeve T-shirt and trousers and you a short-sleeve T-shirt and shorts.

Otherwise, yes, I agree with you (and my sister) that it is easier to warm up with extra clothing than to cool down by shedding it.


In the tradition of the great personal advice columnists, Chicago Tribune’s Amy Dickinson is a plainspoken straight shooter who relates to readers of all ages. She answers personal questions by addressing issues from both her head and her heart. A solid reporter, Dickinson researches her topics to provide readers with informed opinions and answers. Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068

© 2021 by Amy Dickinson

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