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Heating Wars: What are our thermo-spats doing to our relationships?

With more people working from home than ever before, temperatures are rising at home as we decide whether to put the heating on.

With that in mind - and with colder weather not likely to leave us soon - Boiler Plan has surveyed the British public to reveal just how many of us are having temperature wars with the people we live with, and how this could be affecting our moods and productivity.

What’s more, they have also discovered just how many people surveyed are leaving the heating on for our pets, against the wishes of the people they live with… Plus, you can also read up on the top tips to turn down the conflict on your energy bills.

1 in 6 talk about the heating for 10 minutes a day

Boiler Plan’s survey uncovered just how much time we spend talking about turning the heating on, and 17% (1 in 6) do this for over 10 minutes each day - or 2.5 days across the year. If we were to work that out across the average lifetime, that’s a staggering 147.5 days* spent arguing about turning the heating on or off.

According to the results, men spend more time discussing the heating than women. 16% say they can spend 6-10 minutes daily talking about the temperature, whereas only 10% of women said the same.

Staggeringly, 5% of men surveyed said they can spend up to 45 minutes a day discussing the heating. For those 5%, that’s 672 days, or just under two years, over the course of their lifetime spent disagreeing over the temperature of their home.

While it’s important to discuss any issues you might have with the people you live with, Boiler Plan discovered that constant discussions about the heating could be having quite a big effect on our moods and productivity.

*Calculated this based on the average age Brits move out from their parents (22), minus the average lifespan which is 81. That means 2.5 days x 59 years = 147.5 days (in total)

A quarter say arguments over the heating affects their mood

25% of people surveyed said that talking about the heating daily can put them in a low mood, with a further 12% stating that it affects their productivity for the rest of the day.

It’s little surprise, however, that so many said this as the cold can affect our sleep patterns, making it harder to rest. Additionally, a lower temperature can hit your energy levels and motivation to do smaller tasks, and it has even been said that being cold can impact your appetite.

We were on a break: 1 in 14 couples have broken up with a partner due to arguments over the heating

So, it seems millions of Brits are having thermo-spats, with 5% arguing about it daily when winter sets in. However, 1 in 14 couples (7%) surveyed have taken it to the very extreme, choosing to take a temporary break or permanent split following disagreements about the temperature of the home.

Men are more willing to compromise on the heating than women

Almost a third (31%) of men surveyed said they try their best to compromise on the heating, while only 25% of women said the same. However, this difference could be due to the fact that women have a lower metabolic rate and produce less heat than men do, which makes them feel colder. Therefore, they are more likely to need a warmer temperature.

But, 1 in 5 have argued with their partner about leaving the heating on for their pets

Over one fifth (22%) in the survey stated that their partner/person they live with does not like them leaving the heating on for their pet, leading to more disagreements about the temperature. What’s more, a further 18% are happy to pay more in bills to ensure their pet is at a comfortable temperature.

There are, however, perfect temperatures for your pets. Cats have a slightly higher body temp than humans, so a temperature of around 21 degrees is ideal during the colder months. For dogs, 23 to 25 degrees is a good rule of thumb when it gets cold. But, remember pets can be prone to heat stroke in the summer, so it’s important to offer shade, fresh water and ventilated rooms for your pets.

17% surveyed said they want to get back to the office to avoid discussions at home about the thermostat

Almost 1 in 6 (17%) of those who participated in the survey said that daily discussions about the heating at home make them want to go back to the office.

Similarly, it was more men than women stating this, with 18% compared to 15% respectively. But Boiler Plan has also discovered that 52% of us have had arguments about the heat in the office, suggesting that’s not the best place to avoid temperature wars.

Ian Henderson, Managing Director at Boiler Plan, said: “It’s clear that turning on the heating is a sticking point for many people living together. But it doesn’t have to mean constant conflict. There are many ways to compromise over the heating and also improve the efficiency of your property to make sure your home doesn’t lose its heat, and mean you end up paying more in energy bills.”

How to turn down the heat on conflict over your bills

While many of us are facing discussions over the heating, Boiler Plan can reveal that 34% of those surveyed don’t like to turn the heating on until they have to. So, with that in mind, there are ways to save money but still stay warm.

1.    Put your boiler on a timer

Setting your boiler on a timer can be a win-win situation. Doing so means the heating is only on for a certain period of time. But, setting the timer for one degree lower than usual - and around 18 degrees - can also save up to 10% on your energy bills across the year.

2.    Try and avoid putting your clothes on the radiator

When the heating is on, try and avoid using the radiators for drying your clothes. This will lower the heat released by the radiator, which means that the boiler has to work harder to warm up your home. Similarly, if you have pushed furniture up against the radiators, you could be reducing the heat getting into the room. Instead, space your furniture out and ensure your radiators are clear.

3.    Close your curtains to trap the heat

This is a simple yet effective method for trapping the warmth, especially at night. This should help keep the heat in. You should also try and tuck the curtains behind the radiators to avoid blocking out the warmth.

4.    Look at switching your energy supplier to save up to £300

Did you know that 1 in 6 don’t believe you can save money by switching your energy bills? But you can save up to £300! All you need to do is look around or use sites such as IsMyBillFair, which will analyse the price you pay for your energy and let you know if you can get a cheaper deal.

5.    Opt for a smart thermostat to track usage

Smart thermostats are perfect for those worried about their energy bills. You can track the usage and even set schedules to ensure you are not leaving the heating on all day. Plus, you can set your heating on while away from the house to avoid walking into a cold home.

6.    Try a magnetic cat flap to stop the draught coming in

If you are one of the millions with a pet - particularly a cat - that likes to go outside, you’ll know how difficult it is to keep the heat in the house. However, using a magnetic cat flap, which have a magnet attached to the frame and another to the flap, should help you keep the cold out when your pet comes and goes.

7.    Be honest and open with the people you live with

Finally, it’s no good keeping your feelings about the temperature bottled up as that could lead to further conflict down the road. Instead, try and set a time to talk about your feelings and offer compromises to ensure everyone living in the property is comfortable.


If you are looking for more tips on further improving the energy efficiency of your home, check out our Advice Centre.