The battle of the thermostat is really a battle of the sexes

Aug 29, 2018

It's the dog days of August, which means people are fighting about the air conditioning. More to the point, men and women are fighting over where to set the thermostat. That includes New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and his challenger in the state's Democratic primary, Cynthia Nixon. They're going to be debating on TV tonight, and Cuomo reportedly prefers low temperatures when he appears in public. Nixon's campaign has asked that the thermostat be set to a balmy 76 degrees and pointed out that workplaces are "notoriously sexist when it comes to room temperature."

Men and women tend to prefer different temperatures, said Nate Adams, founder of Energy Smart Home Performance. He consults homeowners on how to manage their energy use.

“The root of this is men, in general, have much faster metabolisms than women by about 30 percent,” he said. As a result, men’s bodies give off more heat, so they feel more comfortable when the office is colder. Also, Adams said, “men typically wear more clothing than women.”

You see the divide over temperatures in a lot of offices.

Amy Goodman, who works in TV programming in Atlanta, said her office is freezing. She keeps a plug-in hand warmer on her desk and a hoodie in her cube.

“There's six of us that sit in a communal space, and all six of us have heaters under our desks.”

All six are women. They haven’t bothered trying to ask the building manager for help.

"I've only been at this job for a year, but in places before it didn't matter who you talked to. It's not going to change.”

David Lewis, CEO of the Norwalk, Connecticut-based human resources consulting firm OperationsInc, has 90 employees. More than 80 of them are women, and he hears a lot of complaints about the AC. In fact, he keeps blankets in his own office for visitors who get cold.

But he said there’s not a whole lot he can do. His building provides the air conditioning and sets the temperatures, he said.

“And balancing that temperature in the office is just a nightmare, according to the building maintenance people.”

We asked people on Twitter about their experiences with the office temperature wars: