Why women secretly turn up the heating
Forget who takes out the bin: new research suggests that the ideal home temperature is the vexed question most likely to split households on gender lines. A study has found that four in 10 women covertly turn up the heating. The research,
which was sponsored by Corgi Homeplan, probably falls short of the rigours of peer-reviewed science. But there is strong evidence that women are more sensitive to the cold. A 2015 Dutch study found that women are comfortable at a temperature 2.5C warmer than men, typically 24-25C.
Men and women have roughly the same body temperature; in
fact, some studies have found female body temperature is slightly higher. However, our perception of temperature depends more on skin temperature, which, for women, tends to be lower. One study reported that the average temperature of women’s hands exposed to the cold was nearly 3C lower. The female hormone oestrogen contributes to this as it slightly thickens the blood, reducing the flow to capillaries that supply our extremities. Research has shown that women tend to feel colder around ovulation, when oestrogen levels are high. Metabolism also plays a role. It dictates how quickly heat energy is produced; on average, women have a lower metabolic rate.
Research also shows a degree of subjectivity in how cold we feel, demonstrating a phenomenon called “cold contagion”. Perhaps this offers some hope that our temperature preferences will eventually fall into alignment.