Earlier this year, we covered a study that found cold offices negatively affect women’s performance on the job. This helped prove the battle for the thermostat in the workplace went beyond comfort and emphasized a cognitive impact on women at chilly temps.
Now, a study from Ohio State University has taken the research to the home and found that women are losing the “thermostat battle” in their own homes.
So why are women losing? It has a lot to do with how the different genders view interactions. Researchers found that women viewed more of their conversations about the thermostat as conflict while men would see the same interactions as compromises or even agreements.
The study also found that when someone viewed the conversation about heating as a conflict, they were less likely to adjust the temperature later that day—even when they were cold or uncomfortable. Because it was mostly the women feeling the tension in talks, they also became the ones less likely to touch the thermostat.
“A woman might construe as a conflict what a man might construe as a compromise,” said Nicole Sintov, lead author of the study and assistant professor of behavior, decision making, and sustainability. “The fact that we also found that women in our study were uncomfortable more often suggests that the thermal environment was not catering to their needs.”
The researchers set out to find out more about how our relationships affect the energy consumption of our homes. The results of this research suggest that the interpersonal relationships in a home can have a relevant impact on energy consumption.
The researchers recognized the limitations of their study, especially that the population surveyed isn’t necessarily a good representation of the general population. They also acknowledged that they only included homes where participants identified as women and men, but future studies will likely delve into other relationships and populations to get a better idea of the broader impact.
So maybe don’t worry so much about being too assertive when adjusting the temperature at home, but also be sure you consider finding other ways to warm yourself up, and feel good knowing you’re using less energy and staying cozy.