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Stuffy at 72

Frank Gerjevic

Those of us of a certain age can remember the first energy crisis in the early 1970s, when Americans were asked to turn their thermostats down from 72 to 68 and wear sweaters.

Sweaters. At 68.

That's a long time ago and thousands of miles away, near Cleveland.

At 68, Alaskans go swimming outside.

Seventy-two degrees is too warm for a standing house temp. Dry, stuffy. You need to open windows to clear the air. I understand one temp does not fit all, but years in Alaska have made the old 72 standard excessive.

A few weeks ago we turned the heater on again at my house and set the thermostat at 68. The dog started spending nights outside in the yard. We dialed it down to 65.

That's the temperature for the city's code "yellow," part of its energy conservation plan if gas deliveries fall during peak use this winter. Yellow? We'll hardly notice.

Red? Now that's a different story. Leave the water heater on pilot? Well, take us back to Dickens' London. I did cold water bathing years ago when I was hauling water. It was bracing, and better in the past tense.

Sixty degrees? Too cool for comfort, and won't pass the book test. That's the temperature at which you can comfortably read, indoors or out, without blanket or fire.

If we go red this winter, I'll have to hark back to Cleveland for inspiration. There used to be a boxing gym on the near West side where it easier to shiver than sweat. The sign on the wall said "Make your own heat."


Frank Gerjevic