Are you a victim of the thermostat wars?

The battle over the thermostat is quite heated in many households.

A new report by BC Hydro finds that when it comes to heating the home, British Columbian couples are at odds, with four in 10 admitting to arguing over the temperature.

The report—titled ‘Thermostat wars: How the battle over household temperature is turning up the heat on relationships’ (read it at—found that while arguments about the temperature are common across the province, five per cent of couples describe their situation as an “all-out thermostat war.”

A survey commissioned by BC Hydro found that British Columbian couples will go to great lengths to get their way when it comes to the temperature of their home, and twice as many are motivated by comfort than by cost savings. More than 60 per cent admitted to adjusting the thermostat when their partner was not looking, and 50 per cent say they have waited for their partner to leave the home before adjusting the dial. There are also the 20 per cent who admit to turning the temperature up or down just to annoy their partner.

The survey revealed what temperature the thermostat is set at is one the most contentious household arguments, ahead of who is cooking dinner, what time the dreaded morning alarm is set for, and who forgot to turn off the lights when they left the house. The only subject that was more contentious than what temperature the thermostat is set at was who had control of the TV remote.

However, many of these heated arguments are often based around misconceptions about getting, and keeping, the house warm. For example, many people do not realize that cranking the thermostat up by several degrees at once does not heat the home any faster than turning it up a degree or two at a time.

It might surprise some people to learn that it is not more energy-efficient to keep the thermostat at a constant temperature throughout the day. Instead, it should be adjusted based on the time of day, whether anyone is home, and what activities are going on in the home. If you are moving around making dinner or doing laundry, the heat doesn’t need to be as high as if you’re sitting in the living-room reading or watching TV.

Turning on a space heater is not always a more energy-efficient way to keep warm. A 1,400-watt space heater used an average of four hours a day will cost you up to $17 a month to operate. They are best used in a small or enclosed space, not to heat a large, open room, and should be turned off when no one is in the room.

With Valentine’s Day around the corner, BC Hydro is encouraging British Columbian couples to call an end to the thermostat war. It recommends setting the thermostat at 21° C when relaxing or watching TV, 18° C when cooking or doing housework, and 16° C when you are away from home or sleeping.

Other tips to reduce heating costs and stay comfortable this winter include using a programmable or smart thermostat to automatically adjust the temperature of the home based on the time of day, and installing weatherstripping around doors and windows to seal up gaps and cracks that let cold air into the home and warm air out.

For more ways to save energy and money this winter, visit

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