Fire or Ice?

Fire and Ice

Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I’ve tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice. 
   –    Robert Frost

I love that poem so much that I feel really guilty for using it as an intro to a post about . . . Wait for it . . . fighting over the thermostat.
Y’all, I know that this is one of those pathetic First World Problems, but do you have this problem too?
Here’s the thing:  for the first time since we’ve moved from apartments to houses, we have a house with a fully functional HVAC system.  It can be WHATEVER TEMPERATURE WE WANT, any time of year!  How novel!
Our first house was warm enough in the winter, I think, unless you got too near a door or a window, through which icy drafts would blow.  And the air worked well enough downstairs.  Our upstairs bedroom would have been stuffy if not for a little extra help in the form of a window unit which was about thirty years old (I swear–I was 27 when we moved in there and that thing was definitely older looking than the ones we had when I was a little girl!) and loud as all get out.  It wasn’t super-cold but it stirred the air around enough to do the trick.
Then we moved to the Victorian house, originally meant to be heated, I suppose, by the five fireplaces which were now blocked up, and cooled by the enormous windows which were mostly painted shut, and once opened had to be propped that way with building blocks because the mechanisms were broken. (We found one of the window weights in the closet.  Have you ever seen one?  They are VERY heavy.  I read a book once in which one was used as a murder weapon–very effective.)  Anyway, I doubt that our modern methods were much of an improvement.  In the winter, the temperature stayed at 64, no matter how high we turned up the heat.  We got used to being cold, but it was hard on any guests we had.  And we paid about $900 a month for the privilege.  What with the high ceilings and the trees, we did better in the summer time, but on the hottest days the AC couldn’t get the temperature below 80.
I’ve written at great length about the intensity of our summertime suffering in our next house.  I suppose it was foreshadowing, although the fire wasn’t caused by spontaneous combustion.  The two upstairs floors were not air conditioned.  AT ALL.  Our landlord provided us with two portable units, but if we tried to use them at the same time, we blew a fuse.  So Emily got a fan, John and I got the AC (which had a drawer that would fill with water that had to be emptied every two hours, all night long), and the other kids got to sleep peacefully in the air-conditioned basement.  In the winter, we had ceiling heat, which I actually loved, except it only worked in some rooms (sorry, Emily.).
And now?  We have two units, one for the upstairs, and one that serves the main level and the basement.  They work like a dream.  And the bills are lower than we’ve ever seen, even though the house is bigger by far.  So what is the problem?  I guess that depends on who you ask but this is my blog so I’m going to say John.
The kids wouldn’t dare mess with the thermostats–in fact I doubt they know how they work!  And John has ignored the downstairs one so far.  But he won’t leave the upstairs one–which is in our bedroom–alone.  It’s not so bad if he goes to bed first because then I can fix it before I get in bed.  But if he goes later I wake up in a pool of sweat, especially if Lorelei has come into bed with us and I have spent the night effectively as a sandwich filling.
See,  John just won’t understand how thermostats work.  If it’s really hot out, he thinks turning the thermostat down will help somehow.  If it’s cold outside, he starts turning it up.  He doesn’t seem to understand that once you decide what temperature you think the house should be, YOU SET THE THERMOSTAT AND NEVER TOUCH IT AGAIN.
Another problem is that there only seems to be so much heat that can be shared between the two of us.  If I am hot, John is cold, and vice versa.  Always.
So I have determined that the proper summertime thermostat setting is 76, and the wintertime setting is 66.  That’s because I believe that we SHOULD be warmer in summer and colder in winter, just like I think we should consume strawberries and corn on the cob in the summer and switch to root vegetables and apples in the winter.   And I WILL keep those settings, if I have to explain it to John 100 MORE times and turn it back down 20 times a day.

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  1. Winnie says:

    I enjoyed this. My hubby is always COLD. I am experiencing my own personal summers, so I am hot even in the winter. We try to find middle ground but he can always put on a sweater, and there is a limit to the amount of clothes I can take off. I like to keep the thermostat at one level, but when my back is turned it creeps up.

    • lesliesholly says:

      Thank you, Winnie! I’ve spent years being the warm one–because I was pregnant. Didn’t need a coat or a blanket at that time! There is no middle ground here. My husband just needs to suck it up!

  2. Clisby says:

    My husband is far more impervious to both heat and cold than I am. The kids don’t count. I do want them to MOVE OUT and pay their own utility bills at some point.
    Still, our summertime setting is 80 degrees daytime/78 degrees at night; winter is 68 degrees daytime/55 degrees at night.

  3. Clisby says:

    I don’t know whether I’m alone – but in summer, I don’t like for the daytime temperature inside to be more than about 10-15 degrees cooler than outside. If it is, going outside just becomes more of a torture than it is already. If I set the thermostat at 75 when it’s 97 degrees in Charleston, the shock when I go outside is just too much. Conversely, if I’ve set it to 80-82, it still feels really cool when I come back inside.
    Yes, I know – I need to win the lottery so I can move to my house in the NC mountains during the summer like the rich Charleston people used to do. Or maybe they still do.

    • lesliesholly says:

      Lord have mercy, I don’t know how y’all stand the heat down there. I know what you mean about the transition from super hot to super cold–I also feel like it’s not good for us somehow. But after not having AC for two years, I enjoyed this summer, let me tell you what.

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