On the necessity of heating and cooling

Turning off people’s AC while they’re sleeping is pretty creepy; OTOH, 80F is not exactly life-threateningly hot.

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That’s Texas Freedom man! ( Too bad they can’t take away their guns while they’re napping.)


The way Amazon ironically deleted kindle copies of 1984…

If you offered people a nominal discount on gun purchases for remote control over when you could actually use them, I’m sure people would buy into the program.


For some medical conditions it can be. (MS is the first one I thought of, because of a friend who would absolutely be incapacitated by that temperature.)


Not all human bodies handle or experience 80°F temperatures the same as young healthy adults.

I have a friend with multiple sclerosis who periodically wears an ice vest in her home–her air-conditioned home. She soaks herself in cold water (in a bathtub) but humans are not meant to stay in bathtubs 24/7. She’s managing. It’s a struggle. But 80°F is sometimes insufficiently cool for her.

My elderly mom needed her house at about 72°F at all times, winter and summer. She couldn’t even go outdoors in summer because she had serious medical conditions that she took over a dozen medications each day to manage. Elders often have difficulty with thermoregulation and proper hydration.

Older people are unable to regulate their body temperatures to the same degree as young adults because their responses to changes in body temperature are altered. Several published reports suggest that body temperature decreases with advancing age and has a greater variability in older populations.

Human infants–newborns especially–need to be watched for both core temperature and hydration issues.

Last but not least, my dog is 14 years old. He is unwell. Our thermostat is set at 78°F out of deference to him and the work computers in our leaky old circa 1980s-construction home. Whatever temperature it is in our hallway (where our thermostat is), I can pretty much guarantee that most of the south side of our place is hotter than that.

So while I am ok with a ceiling fan and setting the thermostat at 80°F or higher, I can’t say it’s always workable for other living beings in my life.

When we ran a dial-up BBS out of our place, we had to take the modems (14.4K! w00t!) offline when they stopped working and put them in the freezer for a while to cool down. These would start working fine, fresh out of the freezer, until they got too hot again. This happened enough summers that we got tired of juggling and upgraded to 2 expensive ISDN lines dropped just outside our bedroom wall. Goodbye hot modems.

Good times. :roll_eyes:

ETA: thank you @chgoliz for chiming in; I hear you


A pretty large fraction of the world’s population lives in climates where 80F is on the cool side, at least part of the year. (That includes me, BTW.) Moreover, for much of this population, AC is not an option. I fully appreciate that some people can’t tolerate even such moderate temperatures, but the solution can’t be AC, since powering it is not sustainable in the long term. And I doubt that the suburban Houstonites complaining in the article fall into this category.

This action on the part of the energy company exposed a clear problem with the discount program, and I hope that anyone with life-critical need for the AC gets off it (and that losing the discount doesn’t put their utility bill beyond their means). I think an important question now is whether the company still technically has the power to control individual thermostats, even if people are off the program, since if they do the odds are they will invoke it anyway at some point, plus what if they get hacked?

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so how many deaths per 100,000 population due to hyperthermia is acceptable? in texas we’ve gone from 0.5 heat deaths/100,000 during the period from 2000-2010. 3.2 deaths/100,000 from 2010-2015, and have been holding pretty steady at 4.8/100,000 since then. is that acceptable? would you consider a higher rate acceptable? what are you getting at?


That’s a pretty uncharitable reading of my posts(s). I think I made myself clear: the energy company should not have done what they did, but also 80F is a relatively moderate temperature, and while it is also uncomfortable and sometimes life-threatening, AC is not a long-term solution.

I don’t know what is the solution, because I do not know how to solve global warming (short of continuing to reduce carbon footprint, which means using less energy), but I think we’re all going to have to get used to being more uncomfortable.

FWIW, I teach in classrooms that regularly reach the 90s (higher in the summer). My post isn’t based on having a life protected from heat.

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America uses more energy to keep people warm in the winter than cool in the summer


Looks like we’re gonna need another thread split, possibly;

Whether or not 80 degrees is actually a “moderate” temp, climate change, and/or the unsustainable amounts of energy used to heat and cool homes isn’t actually the topic at hand.


Also 80 degrees is an incredibly high temperature that human beings can’t even begin to survive at, but Americans insist on using the term for what is really 27 degrees.
Just to complete the derail here. :wink:


Yep. Flip side of the same problem. Americans use more than our fair share of energy coming and going; we are the assholes. (Me included.)


Citation needed. (Hope this doesn’t come off as rude, but this flies in the face of everything I’ve seen in my career. A/C is much more costly than heat.)

Around 183.5 per 100,000, based on what much of the US has glibly accepted with regard to Covid. Who knows, maybe more if the heat-deaths are concentrated among homeless, elderly, poor, and minority populations.


This is a little deja vu for those of us old enough to recall the wailing and gnashing of teeth when Jimmy Carter told us all to turn our thermostats down to 68F in the winter.

If convincing the population to widen their ‘acceptable temperature’ band – either voluntarily or through smart thermostats plus incentives – can prevent power outages during extreme temperature events, then I can’t see that as a bad thing.


That’s a good reminder that ‘the good old days’ had just as many whiny snowflakes who weren’t willing to sacrifice the barest iota for the common good.


You spend more money on gas and electricity in the summer than in the winter?

Anyway here you go, graph on the right, December and January are much higher than July and August


This is interesting. You probably already know this, but for those who don’t, we just did a comparison of inflation adjusted costs of electricity, oil and natural gas from 1979 to present in the US, and they’ve all gone down 25-60% while overall residential energy usage has increased over that time.
Between that and materials costs increasing, it’s harder to make the cost effectiveness argument for building (or retrofitting) more resilient, efficient buildings.
We need to make the other cases: non-energy benefits, improved comfort and health, reduced environmental impacts, etc.


of course that graph is total energy use, it would be dropping if it was per capita


And other countries are killing the US in this regard - more efficient building heating a cooling, more efficient use of dead spaces in urban areas (parking lots), and better and more stable distribution of energy. Part of the reason you don’t cheap out on a country’s infrastructure.