You be the judge: should my girlfriend stop cranking up the heating?

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The prosecution: Steven

My girlfriend cranks the heating up year-round. It’s expensive, unnecessary and bad for the planet

My girlfriend Hannah and I have lived together since September last year. Our home is a modern two-bedroom flat, so it retains its heat quite well and is very energy efficient. But we constantly disagree over what temperature to keep our home.

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I prefer a cooler temperature in the house – I like it to be around 20C in the winter, but Hannah prefers it a few degrees higher. But if you’re too cold, it’s better to wear a jumper around the house rather than immediately reaching for the thermostat. I like to be able to move around the house without feeling too hot. There’s also the environmental aspect to consider. We all know by now that overheating our homes isn’t good for the planet.

Before we moved in together, Hannah lived in old student houses that were really cold so I think she craved a cosy home. She also grew up in the Middle East so she’s not used to British winters. When we got our own place, I wanted to set boundaries around the heating by ensuring that we keep it at an agreed temperature. But, on a few occasions, I’ve come home from work and found the flat roasting. Hannah gets home before me and the first thing she does is crank up the temperature. I’ve come back and seen it at 26C. I’m like: “What’s all this then?” Hannah will claim she’s only had it at that level for a short amount of time.

I wanted to keep the flat at an agreed temperature, but I’ve come home and seen the thermostat at 26C

My parents were very strict about heating. My dad had a silly rule: “No heating until November.” And even then it was set low, to 18C. We never had it on in summer. I’ve always lived in a cold house.

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Now it is getting warmer, but we’re still keeping the flat at 22C – that’s a compromise between 20C (too cold for Hannah) and 24C (too hot for me). Hannah wants me to consider turning up the heating in summer if she’s chilly.

But in my opinion it’s usually unnecessary to have it on unless it’s unusually cold. Also, energy bills are increasing rapidly. I don’t want a shock bill next winter, because I don’t want to financially compromise in other areas of our life.

The defence: Hannah

Women feel the cold more, and I want my home to be cosy. Wearing layers indoors is just annoying

I’m used to being warm. I was raised in the Middle East and I moved to England when I was 10 and found it hard to adjust to the climate. My family home was always really warm. It’s nice to come home to a cosy house when you have to deal with the cold at work (I’m a scientist in a lab) and outside.

I usually keep the flat at 22C, but I occasionally turn it up if I’m a bit cold. I don’t think that you should wear more layers at home, it’s annoying and uncomfortable having loads of clothes on. At home you should feel free. It’s not more environmentally friendly because wearing more clothes means you have to wash them more regularly.

It’s not an environmental thing because wearing more clothes means you have to wash them more regularly

This is also a gender thing; women are naturally colder and office temperatures are often tailored to men. In my lab, I wear jumpers and a lab coat when I’m working. Steven acknowledges that he grew up in a cold house and that it wasn’t good. I think he should be more flexible about heating in our house. He shouldn’t get so hung up on the number of the thermostat – he has this thing that if we make the house warmer than 22C he can’t be comfortable. I think it’s in his head a little bit.

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I do sometimes turn the heating up to 26C in winter before Steven comes back from work. If I get caught I say: “It was just on for a bit and I’m going to turn it down again when I warm up.” Having the heating on low overnight bothers me less because the duvet keeps me warm.

I do want the heating on in the summer. Summer weather in the UK is inconsistent so I can feel cold at times. Ideally, I’d turn the heating on most nights before bed, or when temperature drops below 15C – which still happens a lot in warmer months here. Having the heating on all year around is optimum for me. If one person is really warm or cold, we should both be open to adjusting the temperature accordingly. It depends who feels most strongly about it at the time.

I appreciate that our gas bills will be expensive with the price rising, but it’s a necessity. I’d rather compromise in other areas to keep the heating on.

The jury of Guardian readers

Should Hannah turn the heating down?

Hannah needs to get real and layer up! Energy prices are going through the roof and Steven has already compromised enough. My daughter-in-law is from Brazil, but she is willing to put up with our chilly house.
Pennie, 64

Hannah is guilty on multiple counts – environmental, financial, mathematical. I empathise gender-wise, but applaud Steven’s sensibilities. Maybe Hannah can use the scientific method to devise a greenhouse effect in one room? Anyway, deft layering won’t warrant extra laundry.
Nyasha, 20

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Ah, the perennial battle of the sexes – poor cold-blooded Hannah! But loungewear nowadays is light and comfortable. A zipper top over a T-shirt plus slipper socks should solve the issue if they agree to a truce of 20-22C – and help with the environment and crippling bills.
Alan, 50

What a waste of both money and gas when all Hannah needs to do is put on a vest and a jumper. The argument about more washing just doesn’t, well, wash! You can rewear indoor clothes for ages.
Kendra, 49

We all know it’s no fun feeling cold but given where we are now with soaring energy prices and the climate crisis, it’s hard to have much sympathy for Hannah. To some extent this is a cultural/climatic divide, so maybe Steven needs to introduce Hannah to some British traditions like long johns and the good old hot water bottle.
Dominic, 38

You be the judge

So now you can be the judge, click on the poll below and tell us: should Hannah turn the heating down?

We’ll share the results on next week’s You be the judge.

The poll has now closed

Last week’s result

We asked you if Niall should stop leaving the toilet seat up, something which drives his sister Nuala crazy.

54% of you said yes, Niall is guilty
46% of you said no, Niall is innocent

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