Where Do You Set Your Thermostats?

After something like four months of snow, Cedar Rapids has gone straight into summer. If you visit the National Weather Service, you’ll learn that, at the beginning of April, our temperatures were a few degrees away from historic lows; by the end, we were pretty close to record highs. Our current weather is “July heat plus May thunderstorms,” and I am very very very grateful to be living in an apartment with an air conditioner.

This is the first home I’ve ever lived in, including my childhood homes, that has real air conditioning. We had window units growing up, and I had one apartment with a window unit, but for the majority of my adult life I’ve made it through with a combination of fans, open windows, and wet bandanas tied around the neck.

So it feels a little bizarre to sit at my home office on a day when temperatures are in the 80s and, like, not sweat. (I’m used to months of taking a shower, drying off, getting dressed, and feeling like I need to shower again.) It’s also a little bizarre to know that I have to run the air conditioner; I can’t go the frugal route of opening a window, because my apartment is on the fifth floor of an historic building and the windows don’t open. Instead, we get our airflow from a series of vents and a menu of options: heat, cool, fan, dry, low, high, economy…

Currently my apartment is set to Cool, Low, 75 degrees. (I don’t use the Economy option because it tells the system that any temperature within a five-degree range of the set temperature is acceptable, and that just feels like a fancy way of setting the thermostat to 80.) In the mornings, the air conditioner stays pretty quiet; by the afternoon, it’s running continuously.

I was feeling a little guilty about indulging in 75-degree indoor weather when I could probably handle 77 or 78 degrees (or switch to the Fan setting and let the air blow around me at room temperature) and then I read the recent Dear Prudence where they discuss office thermostat wars, and it seems like most office buildings keep the temperature in the low 70s?

So I’m curious. Where do you set your thermostats? Do you try to economize, and if so, how far are you willing to go? This winter was the first winter where I set my thermostat above 65 degrees, for example, because 65 degrees indoors when it was -14 degrees outdoors turned out to be way too cold. (Also, I bet my non-functional windows let a lot of heat escape from the apartment.)

I’m also curious whether any of your cities or towns skipped spring this year, and how worried I should be about that.

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