What Is The Best Temperature?


Comfort is a subjective thing. What’s comfortable for you might not be comfortable for me, and what’s comfortable for both of us might not be comfortable for Method Man. I’m not sure why I jumped straight from you and me to Method Man there. I guess I just worry about him. My point is: It’s very hard to come to a consensus on something as open to personal taste as comfort.

But we are going to do it anyway, right now, in an attempt to determine the best temperature. It’s going to be a disaster. So many people are going to yell at me. I accept this fate and am proud to join ranks with the unpopular truth-tellers who came before me.

A few preliminary notes, though:

  • We are talking about outside temperature here. The one Mother Nature sets every morning. Your personal thermostat, like your salary and your Google search history, is your business. I would never tell you what to set it at.
  • That said, the thermostat in your office or place of business needs to be set between 68 and 72. We’re trying to have a society here.
  • This only applies to people who live in places that have seasons. I’m sure 48 degrees feels like a sun-kissed balmy wonderland if you live on a frozen tundra. I’m happy for you. But you will not be introducing chaos into my process. Good luck on the tundra, though.

Okay, step one:

Throw out anything below 50 or above 90

We begin by throwing out all numbers below 50 or over 90. The over 90 temperatures are the easiest cuts of all. They’re sticky and miserable and can only be saved by a cool beach breeze, which is no help to the landlocked portions of the country. I can feel a pool of sweat developing on my back right now just thinking about a 95-degree summer day. Any temperature that requires you to carry a back-up t-shirt for when you sweat through your first? Not great. We are looking for one shirt weather here.

That’s why we lose the under 50, too. We probably could have started with a less controversial cutoff point, like, say, 30, but why screw around with the cold at all. Under 30 is miserable and involves snow, which has its charms, I guess, but turns into miserable slush that impedes your ability to get anywhere. Stringer Bell has the uselessness of 40 degree days covered so there’s no need to chime in there. Fifty is tricky because 50 in February feels like grilling weather and grilling is good and fun, but 50 in August is borderline parka weather. Too much uncertainty. Fifty is out.

So that leaves us with 51-89. For now. Because…

We cut 80-89

Still too hot. Low 80s can be really nice and is actually my preferred temperature (gimme 82 and sunny 300 days a year), but I can respect that it’s too much for some people. I’m making this sacrifice in the interest of compromise. And it brings up a good point: It is probably better to be five degrees too cold than five degrees too warm. Five degrees too cold can be solved with a light jacket. Five degrees too warm requires an air conditioner or a fan or some other form of artificial cooling system.

These are fine in the summer, as a way to beat the heat, but the temperature we’re shooting for should not need to be defeated by technology. Beside, air conditioners are dangerous, as we learned from The Good Place.


Also, people who get hot easily complain a lot about it. I don’t want to deal with those people. So we’re down to 51-79. Making progress. Now…

We cut 51-69

Hmm. Yeah, that’s a big cut, but I stand by it. I know some people like weather in the high 60s, and there is an allure to it, but that’s teetering into the territory where dressing yourself becomes an unsolvable riddle. Jacket? No jacket? Jacket? Sweater? Long-sleeve thermal t-shirt? Jacket? I can’t be expected to make decisions like this. And god forbid you choose poorly, which I will do somewhere in the neighborhood of 100 percent of the time, despite three decades of experiencing weather. Then you’re the maniac carrying a jacket around on a sunny day or the sucker who is shivering in a t-shirt while a bunch of concerned people ask you if you want a blanket. No, I do not want a blanket. I never want a blanket. What if Method Man shows up and sees me standing outside in a t-shirt with a blanket wrapped around me like someone’s Depression-era grandmother? The only positive in that situation is that I won’t be cold anymore because I will have burrowed a hole underground and started living there forever, free of cruel looks and chilly breezes.

So, yeah. Pass. We’re down to 70-79. It was always coming to this. And it’s where things get really hard. Be prepared to get upset.


We cut 70-75

It’s the breeze thing again. That’s the only thing. Temperatures in this range are lovely otherwise, and a sterile 70-72 is great for indoor conditions, but a cloudy 72 with a stiff breeze can get a little on the cold side. We’re shooting for perfection here. No settling. But we can compromise on the high end. So…

We cut 78 and 79

There. Those temperatures are practically 80 anyway. We can lump them in with the sweaty group and get rid of them, especially if it will appease the cooler temperatures crowd. Done and done.

This leaves us with 76 and 77. Both are great. A little warmth on your skin to make you feel alive. Birds chirping and such. Great for grilling, which, again, is very important. They are just warm enough that you can wear a single shirt and not have to worry about it, but just cool enough that the average person isn’t sweating to the point of dehydration after strenuous tasks like “just sitting in a chair for a while.” They’re both, with apologies to a number just below 70 that we eliminated a few rounds ago, nice.

But we have to make a choice. One or the other. And since, from a purely scientific perspective, one of the numbers is associated with both the founding of this country and my favorite basketball team…

We eliminate 77

76 degrees is the best temperature. I’m glad we settled this.