As summer heat builds, the thermostat wars begin

June 28, 2020

This summer will be different from all others. Something you haven’t experienced before in all your time at the beach. Just when you thought it was safe to go into the water, the waves will throw you back out. They don’t even want you.

Part of the uncertainty is the precautions in effect to thwart the spread of the coronavirus. Safe distancing and direct contact have placed restrictions on traditional outdoor activities, like jumping off of 50-foot cliffs into a stream, driving motorboats that break the sound barrier and knock other boaters over, and family reunions where everyone is packing heat or enough mayonnaise to start a Salmonella planet.

But one thing that hasn’t changed and will never change in the summer, and probably the most dangerous thing of all, is who controls the thermostat setting for the air conditioning.

The war over the correct setting has led to many sleepless, sweaty, tossing and turning, tangled-up-in-the bedsheets nights and reached the very depths of bargaining until a compromise can be reached, much like a sit-down between rival gangs.

So crucial is the idea of thermostat compatibility that some couples have already put it in their prenuptial agreement, and others are going further to make it part of their wedding vows.

It usually is stated as, “Do you, Joseph, promise to love, honor, obey and keep the thermostat at 69 degrees for the month of June and at least 65 degrees in July?”

And, “Do you, Sharon, promise to love, honor, obey and not turn the air-conditioning on until the end of May, around the 27th?”  

Oh, no worries, the rest is still the same including the ending, as in sickness and in health until death do us part. It can get so combative, some couples may have to take matters in their own hands.

With battle lines drawn, the thermostat is dusted for fingerprints daily, bribes are thrown around like lotto tickets, and accusations fly in the confessional to a priest who is sweating through his vestments.

Prayers and novenas are offered up in hopes of gaining the advantage. Who are we kidding, like we’ve led a life where that phone will be answered.

I’m pretty prepared for the air-conditioning thermostat commander position. My children believe that older people must have heat in order to sustain their life form, which is why they head to Florida when the weather turns cold, usually around May 31.

In fact, when I go to one of my adult children’s homes in the summer, I always pack enough winter clothes for a week, even though I am only staying overnight.

The trick to avoiding frostbite in the meat-locker environment is to make sure to bring gloves, hats and masks. Now you can blame this on the coronavirus.

But it doesn’t have to be all that bad. After months of home confinement with one other person, wearing a queen-size down comforter becomes an asset and very thinning. Stay safe and take command.


  • Nancy Katz has a degree in creative writing and is the author of the book, "Notes from the Beach." She has written the column Around Town for the Cape Gazette for twenty years. Her style is satirical and deals with all aspects of living in a resort area on Delmarva.

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