Why women se­cretly turn up the heat­ing

The Guardian - G2 - - Shortcuts - Han­nah Devlin

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.

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