Relationships

Arguing about the house being too hot and cold? How to solve debates about heating in lockdown

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Megan Murray
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Have you been arguing about what temperature to keep the heating to in lockdown? Six couples give us their top tips on how to settle heating disagreements, once and for all.

It’s an age-old debate. When you’re sharing a home with someone, whether it be a partner, flatmate or family, there’s always the one who loves the temperature to be akin to tropical climes and another who needs bracing fresh air to feel comfortable. 

It’s the yin and yang of wintertime heating. While some of us can’t stand to feel chilly in a place we should feel our most relaxed, others feel suffocated by too much stuffy, hot air. 

I’ve experienced this many times and at both ends of the scale. There was my Spanish post-university flatmate who seemed to think she still lived in Madrid and refused to put a jumper on at home, even in December. As her British housemate, I was more than used to pulling on a pair of woolly bed socks and a snuggly dressing gown when temperatures plummeted. This wasn’t for my benefit, though. While I loved being toasty, I was all too consumed by fear of the heating bill which always skyrocketed in winter, adding to an already painfully large London rent.

Currently, I’m trying to survive lockdown without developing frostbite while living with my boyfriend who claims he needs “cold air to concentrate” and “hates living in a greenhouse”. It’s a classic: if I’m working from home all day I need the heating on to feel happy, cosy and comfortable. I don’t want to be donning a hat and scarf on the sofa. For him, it’s too much. 

Every now and then he boils over, striding around the flat, flinging windows open and letting the minus-degrees air flood in, ruining the hours I’ve spent making the place warm. At one point last week he’d even convinced himself we had damp on the walls from excess heating. We didn’t, it was a shadow cast from my legion of candles (which, at that moment, were the only things emitting any warmth). 

 And so, it goes on. Me, grumbling about wearing three jumpers; him, moaning that there’s no fresh air. Can you guess what’s making this battle all the worse? Lockdown, of course. Because, while these disagreements are famous in every household, they’ve become ever more pressing without a break when we’re both at the office. 

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January is one of the coldest, darkest and gloomiest months of the year and never before have we been staying inside for 23 hours a day of it. The result? Huge heating arguments, from the temperature to the cost.

So, what are other couples doing about this? I knew I couldn’t be the only one going around the houses in arguments about what temperature our radiators should be or when we should have the heating on, so I reached out to some Stylist readers with similar problems to find out how they are settling this dispute.

If this is something you’ve been struggling with too, read on for top tips from real couples on how they keep arguments to a minimum while at home together all day in January.

Good old fashioned compromise 

“I definitely feel the cold more. Maybe that’s a common thing between men and women, but I’m always putting the heating on high and as soon as he walks into the room I just know he’ll make a comment about how hot it is. We’ve recently moved into a newbuild house and we haven’t had many heating bills yet, so we’re still working things out. Our current method is that I set the tone for the beginning of the day and if he has a problem with it I compromise and turn the temperature down slightly, then we work from there.”

Woman in scarf
Have you taken to wearing a scarf inside?

Get the right duvet 

“We went through a huge debacle when buying our duvet. He was adamant that he wanted something really thin and light, while I could happily sleep in jogging bottoms and a big hoodie. My advice would be to research and invest in a smart duvet that won’t overheat and is sensitive to temperature. We decided to go for Simba’s hybrid duvet (from £119) which has temperature regulation so that you never get too cold or too hot and so feels like a fair option. It has special fibres inside which dissipate the heat and draw it away from your body for an even spread. We read loads of reviews which all praised it for never overheating or letting you feel chilly and that has been our exact experience.”

Thermostats to control each room 

“We have installed thermostats in each room (we were doing this anyway, not just an over-the-top reaction to winter in lockdown!) which means that we can set a specific temperature depending on how much we use the room or what for, and keep it like this all day. As we have a one-year-old this was something that was important to us when baby-proofing our home because I wanted to know what temperature his room was to ensure he wouldn’t overheat when going to bed, but it’s actually been brilliant for lockdown. For example, we keep the kitchen at 20°C constantly and bedrooms at 19°C while everything else is off. We keep all doors closed at all times so that no heat is wasted and it’s worked well for us so far.”

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A room each

“Living as a couple in lockdown in a one-bedroom flat where the living room, WFH office, dining area and kitchen are also – you guessed it – all one room, it’s difficult to get a break from each other and therefore, someone is always too hot or too cold. But, we’ve tried to draw a line in the sand where we can. My boyfriend insists on freezing temperatures which would rival the Antarctic and so the bedroom window (which is over a century old so isn’t double glazed anyway) is always left open in the bedroom for him to escape to whenever he gets too hot. We don’t have the heating on in this room either and always keep the door closed so that the draft doesn’t leak into the living space.”

Consistency is key

“Don’t quote me on this because so far we can’t see that it necessarily saves money, but we think it makes more sense to leave the heating on consistently at a lower temperature rather than whacking it up and down throughout the day. Before we tried this, we often found ourselves complaining that it was too hot and then too cold and it seemed like it must be bad for our heating bill and energy output to be operating at such extremes. Now, we keep the heating on at 18°C all day and all evening and it seems to work nicely.”

Couple
Falling out over the heating bill?

A timer is the only way

“I recently moved house with my fiance and it’s a 225-year-old cottage and so, as you can imagine, the insulation isn’t up to much. We’ve only been there a few weeks but with both of us working from home all day there’s been quite a few arguments about the heating bill already. To make things fair, we’ve decided to put our heating on a timer from 7am until 9am so it’s not too icy when we get out of bed, and then again from 5pm until 9pm as it gets colder at night. Personally, I’d prefer to extend those times, but this seems to be the best thing for us at the moment. Well, most of the time. Last night, I went into his home office and saw him huddled over his keyboard, hood up, sleeves pulled over his hands and I said: ‘That’s enough! We’re putting that bloody heater on!’”

If you’re still left feeling out in the cold, read our tips on how to sleep in chilly weather, the best hot water bottles to buy and snuggly dressing gowns to keep you toasty.

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Megan Murray

Megan Murray is a senior digital writer for stylist.co.uk, who enjoys writing about homeware (particularly candles), travel, food trends, restaurants and all the wonderful things London has to offer.

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