Skorheim: Winter is coming. Let the battle of the thermostat begin!

Oct 24, 2023, 5:37 PM | Updated: 5:45 pm

Image: In this photo illustration, a Nest thermostat installed in a home is seen on January 16, 201...

In this photo illustration, a Nest thermostat installed in a home is seen on January 16, 2014 in Provo, Utah. (Photo illustration: George Frey, Getty Images)

(Photo illustration: George Frey, Getty Images)

There’s a scene in one of my favorite holiday classics, “A Christmas Story,” where the “old man” (played hilariously by Darren McGavin), fights a never-ending winter war against a clunky furnace, (“It’s a clinker!”) as he struggles in vain to keep his house warm, but not too warm.  That scene, in particular, proves a couple of things to me:

One: I am getting older. Because now when I watch that movie, I no longer identify with the child Ralphie, but now with the grumpy father who I feel more like with each passing year.

Two: The battle over the thermostat is timeless and will never be won.

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Every year around this time, when the autumnal foliage finally falls to the ground and the cold weather sets in, there is a clear battle line drawn in my house and it goes straight through the thermostat on the wall in my living room. I won’t say this is a battle of good vs. evil, because I would never call my wife evil, but I will say that I think there is a clear right side and a wrong side. I’ll let you judge which camp you fall into.

On the one side, there’s me, a reasonable man (most of the time). I grew up in a house where the heater was turned down at night. Not only is this better for the environment (somehow, I guess), it’s a massive saver of energy costs. The idea is that if you are sleeping under warm covers, you don’t need expensive heat to keep you warm. This logic also followed during the day as well, where any complaints about a chilly house were quickly dismissed as weakness and I was advised to put on a sweater. (That’s still good advice!)

On the other side of this conflict is my wife, a woman. (Is this a truism for all women?) She, apparently, grew up in the tropics, because the prospect of turning down the heat just doesn’t seem to occur to her. In fact, if I had to guess, I’d say before she married me, she wasn’t even aware a thermostat could be turned down. It just went from hot to hotter!

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Now, I love my wife, but how warm does a house really need to be? I am spending a fortune on energy bills. And when I think about it, I believe the cold house I grew up in (warm in love, though) was actually pretty great for building character (and it developed a passion for sweaters)! What lessons are my own sons learning in a house that’s never dips below 74 degrees? They’re children now, but someday these boys will be men. I don’t want them complaining about being “chilly!” Layer up, man!

But maybe the best thing for me is to take a step back and consider the true cost of this war. What if I won? What if I prevailed over my wife to allow our house to drop down into the high 60’s at night? Maybe we a save a few dollars ,yes. But do I really want to go to bed every night with a cold wife? I think I just answered my own question. It’s time to wave the white flag.

Listen to KIRO Nights weeknights from 7-10 p.m. on KIRO Newsradio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the KIRO Nights with Jake Skorheim podcast here, on Apple Podcasts, or Spotify.

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Skorheim: Winter is coming. Let the battle of the thermostat begin!