2013 November 23 Saturday
Deluded Poor Woman Thinks 68F Is Low Thermostat Setting

A 71 year old woman in Boston, who was about to move into a shelter because she couldn't afford heating oil, got reprieve from a charity which bought her some heating oil. Her idea of inconvenience to make the heating oil last longer: 68 degrees Fahrenheit.

"I'm trying to be very careful to keep my thermostat low, to around 68 degrees inside," she said.

The idea of putting on lots of heavy clothes and lowering the thermostat much farther doesn't occur to her? The lower classes are increasingly dysfunctional and I expect more bread and circuses.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2013 November 23 09:43 AM 

James Bowery said at November 23, 2013 12:49 PM:

We can only pray they don't become as dysfunctional as the upper classes. Of course, it is of little consequence if the lower classes are dysfunction compared to dysfunctional upper classes.

From Machiavelli’s “The Prince” chapter 6:

“It ought to be remembered that there is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success, than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things. Because the innovator has for enemies all those who have done well under the old conditions, and lukewarm defenders in those who may do well under the new. This coolness arises partly from fear of the opponents, who have the laws on their side, and partly from the incredulity of men, who do not readily believe in new things until they have had a long experience of them.”

It must be kept in mind that “new” here means “new” to the current generation since one may attempt to reintroduce an old order and encounter the same difficulty due to the failure to learn from actual history (as opposed to the version of history provided by the existing order).

PS: We keep the thermostat at 60 degrees due, primarily, to the dysfunctional upper class and its inability to reform economic policy so that capital has an incentive to perform rather than parasitize.

destructure said at November 24, 2013 10:46 AM:

I have mixed feelings about the older lady in the story. Older people can't tolerate the cold as well because they lose body fat as they get older. But she still doesn't have to keep her house at 68F. If it were me I'd wear coveralls, gloves and knit cap and deal with it. The problem is that life has become so easy that people today don't think they should suffer any inconvenience. That's why I'm glad my dad was born during the depression and raised me 'old school'. Subsequent generations are some of the laziest, most self-important and self-entitled people who've ever lived. I blame the state of this country squarely on a lack of character which has been weakened by a lack of hardship.

Randall Parker said at November 25, 2013 8:58 PM:


The new order of things is buzzing along and expanding apace. I see little opposition to it.

My ambition is to go high enough up in my economic ranking so that I start sliding down from a high enough point in my old age that I don't hit the bottom before dying.


Human beings used to live in much harsher conditions for almost all the time the human race existed. 68F is about what I keep the thermostat at much of the time when I'm home. It does not seem severe at all.

destructure said at November 25, 2013 10:05 PM:

Randall, It doesn't seem harsh to me, either. But I'm not 71 years old. According to WebMD:

However, much milder environments can also lead to hypothermia, depending on a person's age, body mass, body fat, overall health, and length of time exposed to cold temperatures. A frail, older adult in a 60-degree house after a power outage can develop mild hypothermia overnight. Infants and babies sleeping in cold bedrooms are also at risk.

Bob said at November 25, 2013 11:53 PM:

I keep my thermostat at around 68F most of the time as well. But the thermostat at 68F in the winter is a lot colder than it is at other times, despite the same thermostat setting.

WJ said at November 26, 2013 9:54 AM:

61 degrees may be fine when you're up, moving about, and generating internal heat, and don't have to strip to take a shower or change clothes. When you aren't all of those things, it can be insufferable and even a health risk. You're cold, your bones ache, your joints ache. Were I poor, cutting my heating bill in that way is one of the last things I'd do to save money. I'd sooner cut back to beans, oatmeal, and powdered milk. There are very few costs I wouldn't cut before I'd reduce the thermostat to 61.

Also, I wonder to what extent these types of programs provide the poor with help and/or information on ways to better insulate their homes.

Engineer-Poet said at November 27, 2013 9:09 AM:

I finally found one of my little thermometers and put it here in the room with me.  It's reading 63°F (it was colder overnight), and I am nearly immobile in this room and sometimes drinking cold drinks.  Yet I'm comfortably warm.  How?

First, I'm wearing long underwear, relatively plush sweats (with a hood; a hat would do) and thick footwear.  Second, I've got an electrically-heated seat pad if that's not enough (I haven't turned it on in a few days).  I have knit gloves if I don't need to do any accurate typing.

I could probably turn the heat down quite a bit more and still be comfortable.  Houses used to be much colder than this as a matter of course.  Anyone who can't find a way to deal with 68°F air temps either has a serious medical condition or isn't trying.

Randall Parker said at November 27, 2013 5:10 PM:


What I am really curious about: Why has the new order of things elicited so little popular opposition?


You can adapt. You can turn up the thermostat just long enough to take a shower. I do. You can put on more clothes. I used to have a dog with really thick fur and I kept the place cooler and wore more clothes because I could put on more clothes more easily than he could shed hair.

Granted, she's 71. But if you are poor you've got to adjust.


Agreed. You can get:
- an electgric warming panel for your feet (used to have one).
- an electric warming seat.
- a space heater for, say, a bathroom.
- heavy socks.
- thinsulate 800 boots (got them but it is always too warm to wear them).
- hats.
- scarves.
- insulated underwear.
- thick shirts.
- sweaters.
- coats.
- a blanket on your chair.

These in total are way overkill for 60F.

ErisGuy said at November 28, 2013 3:58 AM:

"Deluded Poor Woman Thinks 68F Is Low Thermostat Setting”

I hope this is ironic.

Engineer-Poet said at November 30, 2013 4:22 AM:

Here I am in a computer room at 58°F, and I feel fine.  No supplemental heat, either.

4a552f55cbb9 said at December 14, 2013 6:05 PM:

In every oil and natgas poor country in the world where it gets cold, people use electric blankets and space heaters in small rooms. If you're shivering for days on end and don't recall the existence of electric blankets, you might lack certain creative thinking abilities.

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