Ohio State News features new study on household thermostat interactions

Nov. 18, 2019
Ohio State News features research conducted by faculty member Nicole Sintov on household thermostat interactions.

Your characterization of the thermostat war going on in your house is likely to depend at least in part on whether you’re a man or a woman, new research suggests.

The study has taken an initial glimpse at these skirmishes in a sample of Ohio homes, offering the first known data on joint consumer decision-making around household temperature settings and potential effects of those actions on energy use.

The study identified three types of interactions around thermostat settings: agreement, compromise and conflict. 

The research also found that men were more likely to report their interactions with other household members around the thermostat as compromises or agreements, and women were a bit more likely to describe their interactions as conflicts. These differences could relate to individuals’ perceptions of the nature of the interactions or imply that in this war story, women don’t typically prevail.

"It’s possible that women are losing the thermostat battle,” said Nicole Sintov, lead author of the study and assistant professor of behavior, decision making and sustainability at The Ohio State University. “The data hint toward that being what’s possibly going on here." 

“A woman might construe as a conflict what a man might construe as a compromise. That could be an alternate explanation and it’s something we want to explore in future work,” she said. “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.”

Read the full Ohio State News release, "First look at thermostat wars suggests women may be losing these battles" by Emily Caldwell featuring Sintov's research on household energy interactions. 

You can also read about this research on CNN, in the Daily Mail UK and ​​​The Guardian.  Sintov was also interviewed for ​​​​WCAI/WGBH (NPR)'s Living Lab with Heather Goldstone, which aired November 17.