Windows open or shut at night?
May 21, 2011 7:32 PM   Subscribe

He wants the windows closed at night, I want them open. Halp.

I'm one of those weirdos who wishes air-conditioning was never invented. I hate nothing more than drawing stale air into my lungs while just beyond the tightly closed window is fresh air in abundance. Meanwhile, my SO hates being even the slightest bit warm at night. Like, anything above 74 degrees means air-conditioning time. He also has a terror of bugs bordering on a phobia, and is convinced that they come in through open windows (this, despite the non-holey screens). I'll allow that perhaps a small number of bugs do enter this way, but I don't believe it's the great migration that he anticipates.

We've been quarreling about whether to have the windows open or shut at night since we moved in together (nearly two years ago), and I'd really like to find a solution that can somewhat satisfy both of us. I'm thinking that setting a temperature range between which the windows can be open would work, and I'd really like to convince him that the open windows will not invite enormous, flesh-eating bugs into our home.

(I might add, I've already acquiesced that we will not have the windows in our bedroom open, ever--we're talking about windows in the next room over. And, to further endear you to my side, I uncomplainingly suffer with a thermostat set in the low 60s all winter, during which little icicles form on my eyebrows while I sleep.)

Am I totally wrong about the bugs? Is one or both of us being a butthead? Any ideas for how we might resolve things without defenestrating one another?
posted by indognito to Human Relations (27 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
someone has to give here. You've both drawn a line in the sand, you either need to negotiate a midpoint or figure this isn't going to work. This is what married couples do all the time, living together and not being married means that there's no paper bond that forces a solution.

If I were you two, I would find a wise third party to help you work through this.
posted by tomswift at 7:39 PM on May 21, 2011

Sleep in different rooms.
posted by Brian Puccio at 7:40 PM on May 21, 2011 [14 favorites]

Best answer: I've never tried these, but I wonder if a cooling blanket or wicking sheets would help.
posted by pickypicky at 7:42 PM on May 21, 2011 [2 favorites]

You are right about the bugs. Although I would have the same preference as you, I think I can see a compromise. When it's hot and he needs to be cool (good for health, and possibly he needs it), the AC can be on and windows shut. However, when it's cool enough that nature can do the job, let nature do the job for free. Also good for health. That said, you have to both figure out what you really, really need and where/if you can both compromise.
posted by Listener at 7:45 PM on May 21, 2011 [1 favorite]

A terror of bugs coming in through an open, screened window whilst you sleep is not bordering on a phobia, it is a phobia.
posted by MaryDellamorte at 7:46 PM on May 21, 2011 [11 favorites]

Best answer: Wow, tough one. You're dealing not only with temperature incompatability but also mr.indognito's bug phobia. Yikes. Re temperatures: I have a heated mattress pad for my side of the bed, so I can warm up while Mr. Freeze (mr.likeso) enjoys his ice. I keep it on the bed almost throughout the year. We also both have our own fans when one or the other of us (sometimes both) believe summer has arrived.

The window thing is harder to resolve... Paul Simon has a song naming it a dealbreaker... Do you have a cat? Could you think of getting one? Kitteh would totally take care of most winged creatures, even itsy bitsy ones while young. Pusslikeso actually used to pluck mosquitos out of thin air. Anyway, another possibility is is to install the finest of fine mesh screens. Have him pick it out. And don't let him go nuts with bug spray.

Also: therapy. ;) No, seriously, see if he'd be willing to check out flooding. Helped me (somewhat) with arachnophobia.
posted by likeso at 7:49 PM on May 21, 2011

Fans can really make things a lot cooler. Could you compromise by leaving the windows open on cooler summer nights with a fan, and use the ac when it's hotter?

You're right about the screens. I'm sitting on a screened in porch right now in the middle of the woods with bugs swarming around outside (because of the light) and there aren't any in here. well, maybe a couple-- but that level of bugs would probably be good for him.
posted by geegollygosh at 7:53 PM on May 21, 2011

A whole-house fan is a nice way to get a great cooling effect from open windows on nights when humidity is low and night temperatures drop into the low 70s or upper 60s--cooler than you would get with air conditioning, actually. My husband and I are in a similar situation as you with regard to temperature preferences, and he really loves the whole house fan--it feels very cool, and it is a "fresh" sort of cool. So cool, that I just keep the winter bedding on.

I don't know what to do about the bug thing, though, except encourage him to take steps toward becoming less bug-phobic for everyone's sake.
posted by SomeTrickPony at 8:05 PM on May 21, 2011

And, to further endear you to my side, I uncomplainingly suffer with a thermostat set in the low 60s all winter, during which little icicles form on my eyebrows while I sleep.

this actually wouldn't endear me to you more bc are you for real? low 60°s temps + warm body next to you + blankets = not cold.

but since i am also a lover of open windows on warm evenings, i do however, believe it's ridic that your SO would have a paranoia of hoards of bugs coming in when your windows are screened. convincing him otherwise, tho, might be an exercise in futility bc i tend to think when someone wants to believe something is irrationally true, no amount of evidence will convince them otherwise.

i like your idea of having a set temperature range for when windows will be opened and any temp above a certain number, you would then go AC. i am also a fan of fans.
posted by violetk at 8:07 PM on May 21, 2011

By agreeing that the windows will always be closed in the bedroom you've already made an enormous concession and you shouldn't have to compromise any further. If he's fair, he'll recognize that.
posted by moxiedoll at 8:11 PM on May 21, 2011 [8 favorites]

indognito: "I've already acquiesced that we will not have the windows in our bedroom open, ever--we're talking about windows in the next room over."

This indicates a wildly irrational fear on the part of your SO. I would extremely seriously suggest he see a therapist about this. (Should you ever decide to have kids, that phobia of your SO's is going to be very, very problamatic.) In the mean time, you can join the legions of us who cope with incompatible sleeping environments by sleeping in different rooms.
posted by DarlingBri at 8:16 PM on May 21, 2011 [3 favorites]

Best answer: Mosquito netting curtains in front of the open window. Or use a fan to deter mosquitoes.
posted by hooray at 8:39 PM on May 21, 2011

Can't you do both on alternating days?
posted by halogen at 8:40 PM on May 21, 2011 [1 favorite]

Ummmm... I've had a screened window open, without ever closing it, in my current apartment for several years now. And hey, no bugs!
posted by chez shoes at 8:44 PM on May 21, 2011

Best answer: Hang a mosquito net over the bed and keep the windows open and he can sleep on top of the blankets, or just under a sheet in the summer, and you can have a heated blanket in the winter.
posted by Nothing at 9:01 PM on May 21, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Maybe only open the windows in rooms with the lights off? That will cut down bug attraction to the max. He's definitely got a phobia, though. Bugs really don't get in much when you have screens, and probably more do when you bring the groceries in and prop the door open than ever do by crawling through gaps in the screens. It's why screens were invented!

There is a potential entry point in screenage, btw. If you have old-fashioned windows there's a slight gap between the screen layer and the storm windows that flying bugs can dance their way through. I watched a mosquito slip between one, go up between the storm, and end up in the room. Slap some tape or some strip insulation along it (once you've put the screens down for the summer), and you'll be much more bug-proof. Make sure you do this if you have a window A/C unit, too. Lots of potential entryways there.

I prefer A/C when it's hot and/or humid, but open windows with the ceiling fan when it's warm. My mother lives with almost all the windows closed all the time (she lives on the first floor and is afraid of crime) and it's just. so. stuffy! I hope you can make an agreement based on humidity level and temp. Once it's too high, A/C time. Too low, fans or just air. And make him reconsider the open windows in your bedroom. Fresh air! It's a nice thing. Just turn off your lights in your bedroom, then open the windows. Bugs will stay out, air will get in.
posted by clone boulevard at 9:03 PM on May 21, 2011

If I wanted to run the air conditioner instead of having the window open, I would totally make the conversation about bugs rather than temperature.

Also, nthing the fan suggestion.
posted by WaspEnterprises at 9:30 PM on May 21, 2011

How about a window fan? He gets an actual barrier (not just a mesh screen) between him and the bugs, and you get to have real air in the bedroom.
posted by Space Kitty at 10:33 PM on May 21, 2011 [2 favorites]

I like open windows too, but my fear is more of human assailants (or robbers) coming in that way. Is that a consideration?
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 4:29 AM on May 22, 2011

Response by poster: Thanks, everyone, for your great suggestions and your reassurance that I am not crazy for thinking that screens keep bugs out of houses. We do have cats (i.e. bug killers) AND a whole house fan, but neither of these two have yet been enough to persuade him to my way of thinking. Likeso, I had no idea that Paul Simon had a song on this subject--I need to hear it! I love the suggestion of mosquito netting and strangely had never thought of it (perhaps because, oh I don't know, I live in the Midwest and not the tropics?) I will definitely be trying to go that route. And using window fans and fine mesh screening. And buying an electric blanket in the fall!
posted by indognito at 5:37 AM on May 22, 2011

Using the AC uses enormous amounts of energy. Run some numbers, and get an idea of how much electricity you are using when you have it on. Appeal to his wallet, or his concerns about the environment.
posted by SuperSquirrel at 5:39 AM on May 22, 2011 [2 favorites]

I get bugs in through my screens - little tiny gnat-sized things, and what worked was to put two layers of screen in. It's very easy - you buy a roll of screen (even walmart has it), pull out the old piece (you may have to replace the cording that holds the screen in, but they sell that if they sell rolls of screen. Then cut a matching piece and put them both in. it doesn't significantly lower the air flow but even the little bitty bugs can't get in.

If it's a matter of the two of you having different internal temperatures, the heated mattress pad is a great idea. When I was married we had separate covers, too - I had a heavy down comforter and he had a much lighter blanket. We didn't keep anything tucked in, and we'd overlap them in the middle so we could be close when we first got into bed. But as the night went on we'd move and wrap our covers around ourselves - or throw them off, in his case - and be perfectly comfortable.

though I have to agree that if the fear of bugs is his real reason, it's an unreasonable fear and it's something he should deal with.
posted by lemniskate at 5:52 AM on May 22, 2011

Just a thought: you started by talking about his dislike of being hot at night, then you focused on the bugs issue. Are the bugs really the main issue? Or are they just an excuse for his favoring AC over windows?

Have you discussed your suggestion of a temperature range, and his bug fears prevented that solution? It's hard to tell from your post. Speaking as a guy who hates being too warm in bed, the temperature range suggestion sounds great if temperature is the true root of the issue.
posted by Tehhund at 5:57 AM on May 22, 2011

Heh, indognito, I think you're right. Throw all of the spaghetti at the wall and a strand or two just might stick!
Just repeating that small, personal bedside fans might help. And I recommend a single-sized electric mattress pad rather than a blanket. Then you keep the warmth where it needs to be: your side of the bed. Mr.likeso claimed he would have suffered heatstroke from a blanket, whatever the size. But I've noticed that when it gets chilly, feet-not-my-own seem to creep over to the heating pad. Followed by legs, followed by torso. Followed by cat. So fair warning.

Song and
posted by likeso at 6:47 AM on May 22, 2011 [1 favorite]

You can run an air conditioner with a fresh air setting. Instead of recirculating the stale air, it cools the air from outside. Separate sheets and blankets for both of you, that way you can have as many as you like.
posted by fifilaru at 4:01 PM on May 22, 2011 [1 favorite]

I don't have any practical advice to offer, but rather, my own anecdotal story. I am a seriously hot sleeper. I am not like this at all when I am awake--in fact I tend to run on the cold side. But I sleep very hot and my husband says I am like a furnace when I sleep. Needless to say, I like our bedroom very cool. Otherwise, I am up and wildly uncomfortable many times a night. Unless it was not humid, a breeze was blowing cool air inside and it is well under 70 degrees, I would be miserable sleeping with the windows open.

My point is to ask you not to discount how awful it is to be a hot sleeper in a warmish room. Air conditioning not only makes a room cooler, but it also removes the dreaded humidity which makes my sleep even worse. This is not a simple matter of being mildly uncomfortable. It wakes me up and feel utterly terrible for awhile.

My husband prefers open windows and warmer bedroom temperatures. But he is sympathetic to my legitimate needs and sacrifices his preference for fresh air with my need not to be physically uncomfortable. He sometimes uses extra blankets on his side of the bed and if he gets cold and he can always roll over to me because I am so damned hot!! I appreciate that he cares more about my physical comfort than his preferences for fresh air. I, in turn, care about his preferences and we open the windows up to fresh air when I am awake and not amenable to turning into The Furnace.

It is a win-win for both of us--something that is to be cherished in any relationship.
posted by murrey at 7:56 PM on May 22, 2011 [1 favorite]

would a few pots of gorgeous carnivorous plants near the window be comforting to him?

they haven't really helped my houseplant bug infestations but they sure make me feel a lot better about it
posted by ghostbikes at 10:33 AM on May 23, 2011 [1 favorite]

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