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A permanent spot on the Top 10 list of things for couples to disagree over is the temperature to set a home’s thermostat.

Is your household like mine – one partner emphasizes comfort, while another weighs the cost? I’ll leave it to you to figure out who’s who in our home and instead offer a definitive answer to the question of where to set your thermostat in summer if you have central air, depending on whether you’re at home or out and about.

A widely quoted number offered by the U.S. Department of Energy is 26 degrees Celsius, or 78 degrees Fahrenheit. This is said to be a sweet spot in balancing comfort and economy.

Our air conditioner is set at that level when we work at home during the day, but it often gets impromptu adjustments to lower temperatures. I’d estimate that 25 is typical until the thermostat goes down a couple of degrees at bedtime.

There are strong climate-related reasons to go easy on your inside temperature in the summer heat. Air conditioners use a lot of power and meeting demand boosts production of greenhouse gases. Refrigerants used in air conditioners add to the problem of greenhouse gas emissions.

How you (and your home) can stay cool in a heat wave

There’s also a cost savings in living in a warmer home in summer, though it may not be as large as you think. I checked our condo unit’s peak monthly Hydro Ottawa bill in summer 2021 and compared it to the monthly average for the year. The difference was about $11. When I compared the peak summer monthly cost to the first month of fall, the savings came out to $21.

The soaring cost of living makes even these amounts consequential in many households. But the cause of spousal harmony may be better served by changing the conversation on where to set the thermostat. It’s about saving the planet more than a few bucks.

One further thought on air conditioning temperatures is to turn your thermostat up a couple of degrees when you’re not home. A couple of heating and cooling technicians have told me that more of a gap will offset your savings by making your air conditioner work harder when the temperature is lowered on your return.

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Rob’s personal finance reading list

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I recently took advantage of Shoppers Drug Mart’s medication disposal program to get rid of some long-expired drugs taking up space in a closet. Can you still use expired drugs? Answers here from the New York Times.
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Ask Rob

Q: Do any of the big banks offer incentives for transferring in a large RRSP?

A: It never hurts to ask, particularly where large accounts are concerned. Some thoughts on what to ask for: Covering any transfer-out fees charged by your old investment firm; higher rates on GICs, if you use them; a slightly discounted advice fee, if you use a fee-based account (the fee is set as a percentage of your account assets). If you have other business with the bank, you could ask for a discount or waiver of your monthly account fees.

Today’s financial tool

A helpful overview of Canada Pension Plan retirement benefits, including a mention of resources that can help you calculate the amount of CPP you’re entitled to.

The money-free zone

Could there by anything more baby boomer-ish than a Bob Dylan cover of a Beatles song? What can I say? Dylan’s version of Things We Said Today is a kick.

Listen to this

Michael Bartz of the In Over My Head blog interviews J.B. MacKinnon about his new book, The Day The World Stops Shopping, Mr. Bartz blogs about what we can all do to tackle climate change.

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