Indoor/Home Temperatures in Arctic or Very Cold Climates
December 12, 2012 8:28 AM Subscribe
At what temperature do people set their thermostats if they live in Arctic climates, such as Barrow, Alaska? My mother wants to know.
posted by aabbbiee to home & garden (16 answers total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
My mother has been fascinated by Barrow, Alaska, for a long time, and even subscribed to their print newspaper for many years. She likes to learn more about the differences in day-to-day living compared to her home in mid-Missouri, USA. (She read it so regularly that she could keep up with the local high school basketball teams.)
She has this question about the temperature at which people set their thermostats in areas where the average summer high/lows are 46°/35° F and the average winter high/lows are -7°/-20° F. She specifically asks about Barrow, but she would be interested in any residential community in or near the Arctic Circle or with similar year-round temperatures. (I know that Barrow is not the coldest inhabited or residential place on Earth.)
Obviously, there will be a range of answers for residents, as there would be in my area, too. And people in both areas may not be able to afford to heat/cool their homes to an optimum temperature.
However, generally people in mid-Missouri heat their homes to the mid-upper 60°s F in the winter and air-condition to the mid 70°s in the summer (where our average high/lows are 88°/66° F in the summer and 37°/18° F in the winter). For a couple of months in spring and summer, we can turn off our climate control, open windows, and enjoy the weather. This is not the same for commercial buildings, which are climate-controlled year-round, generally to 68°-72° F (in my experience).
How is this different in residential areas above the Arctic Circle? What would be the temperatures at which the typical family would set their thermostats? And, if it is significantly lower than the average home in mid-Missouri, how does that affect residents? Do people have to worry about household goods stored at lower temperatures, or do different things to insulate their homes to make the heating more efficient? Are temperatures different in commercial buildings?
When my heater runs in the coldest part of winter, it runs constantly, and it's very expensive for me to heat my home (natural gas). The heat tends to go out at the worst and coldest times, of course. People in my area do die of cold and heat exposure every year. Still, I always think that it must be far more difficult and expensive in colder parts of the world, and there are many colder parts of the world! How can a heater keep up if it's running every day of the year?
Any other information on this topic is welcome, such as the differences in actual heating units or the general sensitivity to cold for residents, etc. If you'd prefer to respond in Celsius, please do!
(Please assume this question was written with the best of intentions, because I know there are bad ways to ask what it is like to live in a different part of the world. Be gentle if I'm making assumptions that are incorrect!) Thank you!