Setting “Comfortable Lows” for Consumption

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With winter approaching, now seems like a good time to rerun this old post . . .

Sally Wengrover, Ph.D.

In a recent op-ed article for The New York Times, Ken Ilgunas describes how, when winter weather arrived, he experimented with the thermostat in his house to find the lowest setting he could tolerate. As it turned out, he found he could cope with the thermostat set at 45 degrees as long as he wore multiple layers of clothing and wrapped himself in a down sleeping bag. While he never actually enjoyed the cold, he eventually adapted to what he called his “comfortable low,” and discovered “that one’s sense of comfort can be redefined with a bit of grit and resourcefulness.”

Well, I don’t bring up Ilgunas’s article to make the point that we all need to set our thermostats to the point where we see our breaths whenever we exhale. I hope things never get so bad—environmentally or economically—that we’re forced to lower our thermostats to 45 degrees. As…

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