OPINION: Brace yourself for November’s domestic battle of the thermostat

Is the central heating on in your house yet? Picture: Getty Images

Is the central heating on in your house yet? Picture: Getty Images - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

It’s the conversation had in households all over Norfolk at this time of year says our columnist

If there’s one benefit to having Halloween in these strange times of tiers and bubbles it’s that tonight you may be able to keep the heat in your house.

Yes, the traditional October 31 ordeal of opening the front door to the local youths chancing their arm for the contents of your treats cupboard will be slightly different this year as trick-or-treaters probably stay at home.

This means women of Norfolk will be celebrating as the house stays nice and toasty while men, who let’s face it, like everything a tad cooler, will have to go and stand in the garden for a bit of fresh air.

I hate to trample over gender stereotypes, but it’s always women who crack first and it’s usually happened by now. I can hear women all over Norfolk adopting that same testing-the-water-type voice usually reserved for suggesting watching a foreign film with subtitles or buying falafel to ask the following question: “Shall we put the heating on?”


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It’s often followed by a generous twist of the thermostat that within five minute has converted a lukewarm October afternoon into Death Valley. Men would just go and put a jumper on until Christmas.

I must admit I loathe hot rooms as much as I hate it getting dark before Pointless comes on. I find it so stuffy throughout December and January being stuck inside with the heating on - and it also seems daft that I’ll probably be wearing a T-shirt to cope with the fact my house suddenly feels more like the Sahara.

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If you need more proof that I hate stuffy rooms, I used to have a fan going on my desk all year round for a bit of breeze in the office – even in January when everyone was moaning about how cold it was. It made it more tolerable to sit at a desk for me and bizarrely when it was really hot, people would ask if they could share the fan.

I pointed out that someone who likes a fan on in January doesn’t exactly want to share it when it’s even hotter in August.

This week, I spoke to Age UK Norwich about their Winter Well campaign and one of the things they suggested is to keep temperatures at home to a certain level. They recommend 18C in the bedroom and a balmy 21C in the living room. In the name of solidarity with the elderly generation, I gave my good lady wife the green light to crank our heating up to that temperature for the evening.

It wasn’t long before I was sat in a T-shirt while she jiggled her shoulders and announced that she “liked it cosy”.

For me it was a tad too warm, but as we head towards winter and those grim dark early evenings, I take the point that a warm house is a happy house and, all jokes aside, it’s vital to keep warm and cosy in these worrying times.

I haven’t heard any government guidelines about heating and coronavirus. I know that schools have had pupils wearing coats in lessons and have had windows open to circulate air in a way of combating a virus that seems to like indoor warmth.

As an asthma sufferer for most of my life I can trace my loathing of hot rooms back to a sauna in Denmark in 1986.

It was my first foreign holiday and the first time in a sauna - the stuffy air in there literally took my breath away and I had an asthma attack before I even knew I had the condition.

Since then I’ve read up about conditions such as claustrophobia which also affects asthmatics and for that reason I hate lifts, confined spaces and going underground. I can just about tolerate the Tube, but even going through the Dartford Tunnel makes me feel uneasy.

As a kid I went into some Welsh slate caverns and felt awful and even as an adult on holiday in Turkey I lasted about 10 seconds in old underground city in Cappadocia. That was a funny one as it was supposed to be a one way system – you entered and followed directions to tour the site.

Within seconds I was cutting a path through dozens of miffed Turkish school kids who were following me down as I could feel my anxiety kick in and I was desperate for some fresh air.

There is method to my madness though for it’s a psychological thing asthmatics have about having enough air and that’s why I hate small spaces and of course hot rooms with the radiators blasting out.

So that’s my excuse for wanting to open a window at home, even as we arrive in November. I’m sure you’ve thought about putting the heating on in your house if it’s not on already.

Let battle commence!

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