Author Topic: Keeping heat low not good for kids?  (Read 9011 times)

Mom to 5

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Keeping heat low not good for kids?
« on: February 14, 2014, 08:09:59 AM »
I have been keeping the heat down this winter to save on electricity. I had settled on 62 for how low we could go without being really distracted by the cold. But, my kids have been sick with colds and such for an entire month now. Is it in their best interest to keep it at a certain temp? I knocked it up to 65 this week after wondering about this.

Kids are ages 3 and up, and they have low BMI, so not a lot of blubber to keep them warm. It's hard to get them to keep anything on their feet.

Frankies Girl

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Re: Keeping heat low not good for kids?
« Reply #1 on: February 14, 2014, 08:21:14 AM »
Actual temperatures do not cause colds. It would be helpful if you had a humidifier as DRY air will dry out the nasal passages and increase the likelihood of mouth breathing (breathing through the nose helps to filter air pathogens). Increasing the heat isn't really going to help since that just dries out the sinuses even more.


http://www.cnn.com/2014/01/07/health/upwave-colds/
http://www.everydayhealth.com/cold-and-flu/colds-and-the-weather.aspx

Cheddar Stacker

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Re: Keeping heat low not good for kids?
« Reply #2 on: February 14, 2014, 09:11:13 AM »
I wouldn't worry about it unless they are frail/super thin. Your body burns a lot of calories keeping itself warm, so if any of them are in the 10th percentile or below for weight or something like that maybe you should bump it up a few degrees.

sheepstache

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Re: Keeping heat low not good for kids?
« Reply #3 on: February 14, 2014, 09:30:42 AM »
Maybe one of the medical professionals will chime in.  It seems like there's too much folk wisdom about cold and how metabolism works, etc.

If they won't keep things on their feet then it sounds like they don't feel cold :)  But do they seem hyperactive?  Like, they may keep running around to get their body temperature up.  But, again, I'm not sure that that really matters in how much energy they have to recover from illness.  My hunch is if they needed more energy they would naturally eat more to get it or sleep more to conserve it.  But, again, folk wisdom.

Dee18

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Re: Keeping heat low not good for kids?
« Reply #4 on: February 14, 2014, 09:42:43 AM »
I checked on this years ago with a doctor because I keep the heat at 62, and lower at night.  (My theory is why not wear winte clothes in winter.). The doctor said it was perfectly fine to have a cool house.  I did make sure that when my daughter was very young she was dressed warmly at night, with a little fleece suit, so she shouldn't be cold if she kicked the covers off.  The doctor emphasized what has already been mentioned...colds come from viruses, not the cold

La Bibliotecaria Feroz

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Re: Keeping heat low not good for kids?
« Reply #5 on: February 14, 2014, 07:37:57 PM »
FWIW, the Japanese traditionally believe that kids benefit being kept cold. It's been years since I was reading this, but at that time at least day care centers and so on would be kept really cold and kids would wear light clothing inside. One hopes their teachers at least were permitted heavy cardigans!

Argyle

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Re: Keeping heat low not good for kids?
« Reply #6 on: February 14, 2014, 08:03:39 PM »
Being cold is a stressor on the body and could make your kids more vulnerable to the germs that do come their way.  I stay each winter with a friend who keeps her house very cool, and I do feel chilly while I'm there.  And sure enough, every single time I come down with a virus on the 5th or 6th day.  This has happened so many times that I've decided to stop staying there in the winter.  So I think raising the temperature while your kids are recovering is not a bad move.  If you turn it back down and they come down with illnesses again, you have your answer.  The health of your children is certainly more important than saving a few bucks on the gas bill, so keep track.

Abe

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Re: Keeping heat low not good for kids?
« Reply #7 on: February 15, 2014, 12:14:22 AM »
Their illnesses are unrelated to the temperature of the air, and will not significantly affect their recovery from routine viral infections if they are otherwise healthy. However, low temperatures can worsen symptoms of asthma or chronic bronchitis. Children with these types of illness are at higher risk of complications from routine viral/bacterial infections and all steps to avoid exacerbations should be taken.

markstache

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Re: Keeping heat low not good for kids?
« Reply #8 on: February 15, 2014, 07:21:21 AM »
We run a space heater in the kids' room at night. The rest of the house is kept low, and the space heater (on the minimal setting) keeps the kids room a little warmer. During the day, my little guy is happy as a clam to run around with pants or underwear (another problem entirely), so I take this to mean he is fine.

MrsPete

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Re: Keeping heat low not good for kids?
« Reply #9 on: February 15, 2014, 07:52:57 AM »
We didn't always have heat when I was a kid, and the lot of us were always sick when we were cold.  The worst was when we also didn't have hot water; we'd get ourselves thoroughly chilled taking a bath, and then we'd really be cold.  We'd try to bathe just before bed because at least we did have plenty of blankets. 

furrychickens

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Re: Keeping heat low not good for kids?
« Reply #10 on: February 16, 2014, 07:27:50 AM »
Not a medical professional. This is our first winter as Mustachians. We have gone from 74F to 63F, and 60F at night.

My kids are never the ones complaining. In fact, they usually take socks off within 5 minutes of getting home because their feet are "sweaty". Collectively we hate shopping in stores (unless it's a freezer section) because they're too damn hot!

They've never been healthier, but this probably has more to do with homeschooling instead of being at school.

I'd second the advice about humidifer if it's primarily colds/runny noses. Alternatively, ever since I started line drying clothes in the basement, I've never felt the air being too dry. I run a box fan to push the air from laundry towards the furnace and run the furnace fan to circulate air in the house.

soccerluvof4

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Re: Keeping heat low not good for kids?
« Reply #11 on: February 20, 2014, 12:48:01 PM »
74-63 wow! I am down to 67 and my kids are never cold but I am.  Having said that i do believe its healthier and you are burning calories to stay warm. If its cold and there not dressed right when sick that would be one thing but thats something you would have to determine. Years ago it was a big thing if people got pneumonia to put them out on a cold porch. Ice baths with a fever. So while cold is said to not cause illness it may or may not add to the healing process imho.

 

furrychickens

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Re: Keeping heat low not good for kids?
« Reply #12 on: February 20, 2014, 03:33:23 PM »
74-63 wow! I am down to 67 and my kids are never cold but I am.

My wife is cold most days but she graciously puts up with it. It took some adjustment for me, but we just stepped the house down a degree a week. 63 is pretty much my threshold until I can improve the insulation (little to no insulation in the exterior walls of at least some rooms).

Cassie

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Re: Keeping heat low not good for kids?
« Reply #13 on: February 20, 2014, 04:35:18 PM »
When I was raising my kids we set the temp at 65.  I think that is a reasonable compromise between comfort and expense. 

SAHD

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Re: Keeping heat low not good for kids?
« Reply #14 on: February 20, 2014, 07:57:56 PM »
I once had a doctor yell at me for keeping my house at 67.  She said it was too cold for kids, I guess not all doctors are smart.  Are little one was coughing and she blamed the house being "cold" for why he was sick.

galliver

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Re: Keeping heat low not good for kids?
« Reply #15 on: February 20, 2014, 10:13:41 PM »
Pretty sure you won't get a definitive answer anywhere on the internet about whether cold contributes to colds/illnesses.

Obviously the virus is the main culprit and thus anything affecting the immune system (lack of sleep, alcohol, physical overexertion) can make you more vulnerable to becoming sick (I virtually never get sick if I get 7-8 hours, got 5-6 for 3 days last week then came down with a nasty cold. Took me 5 days to stop feeling like the walking dead.)

Question becomes whether being cold weakens your immune system. I tried looking this up once and was not convinced conclusively either way by what I found. But my conclusion was that if multiple cultures around the world came to the same conclusion that being chilled (not just cold weather, but becoming cold) brings on colds, I won't discount the possibility there's something to it, and I'll make an effort to stay warm. (My thermostat is at 65, my room probably closer to 60 due to outside walls.)

happy

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Re: Keeping heat low not good for kids?
« Reply #16 on: February 21, 2014, 06:21:43 PM »
Newborns do not temperature regulate well, and need to be kept warm for the first few weeks/months.  Equally though, not too warm, since they can't cool themselves down. The elderly also to do not thermoregulate as well, and tolerate extremes of temperature poorly. I guess people with v low body weight, chronic illness etc, might also be affected by temperature extremes.  The rest of us do fine in a relatively wide range of temps: its called homeostasis.

Personally I think 60 at night is completely fine. In Australia we have poorly insulated houses which don't hold the heat. Most people don't heat their houses at night as it doesn't really get very cold (well not like northern US states at least). Houses commonly get down to 45-50 degrees overnight and I don't think we think anything of it.

For example I live in a frost free area, coldest it gets is 40F overnight. Before I fixed my house insulation up in the winter  it was 45 degrees in the kitchen in the morning eating breakfast. Unpleasant yes, did I worry my kids would die of pneumonia, no.  Now in winter the house will drop down to say 50-55 overnight which we find fine.  I wouldn't dream of leaving the heat on to keep it at 60 all night. My kids have lived very healthily in this sort of temp range (>50 in the house) all their lives even when they were newborns.

If you were going to change anything, I'd do it gradually over months or even a year or two: there is a period of adaptation. One of my friends is an early childhood teacher who said she had young preschool kids just arrived from Vietnam (much hotter and more humid)  shivering in their parkas all summer for quite a while until they got used to our temps.

edit: clarified an ambiguity
« Last Edit: May 03, 2014, 07:33:17 PM by happy »

soccerluvof4

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Re: Keeping heat low not good for kids?
« Reply #17 on: February 25, 2014, 07:37:39 AM »
Newborns do not temperature regulate well, and need to be kept warm for the first few weeks/months.  Equally though, not too warm, since they can't cool themselves down. The elderly also to do thermoregulate as well, and tolerate extremes of temperature poorly. I guess people with v low body weight, chronic illness etc, might also be affected by temperature extremes.  The rest of us do fine in a relatively wide range of temps: its called homeostasis.

Personally I think 60 at night is completely fine. In Australia we have poorly insulated houses which don't hold the heat. Most people don't heat their houses at night as it doesn't really get very cold (well not like northern US states at least). Houses commonly get down to 45-50 degrees overnight and I don't think we think anything of it.

For example I live in a frost free area, coldest it gets is 40F overnight. Before I fixed my house insulation up in the winter  it was 45 degrees in the kitchen in the morning eating breakfast. Unpleasant yes, did I worry my kids would die of pneumonia, no.  Now in winter the house will drop down to say 50-55 overnight which we find fine.  I wouldn't dream of leaving the heat on to keep it at 60 all night. My kids have lived very healthily in this sort of temp range (>50 in the house) all their lives even when they were newborns.

If you were going to change anything, I'd do it gradually over months or even a year or two: there is a period of adaptation. One of my friends is an early childhood teacher who said she had young preschool kids just arrived from Vietnam (much hotter and more humid)  shivering in their parkas all summer for quite a while until they got used to our temps.

edit: clarified an ambiguity


I agree on bringing it down slowly to adjust. I tried dropping fast and I froze my Butt off . So thats what i have been doing and not sure if psychosomatic or not but that one degree drop at a time...burr! At night yea...colder the better!

jba302

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Re: Keeping heat low not good for kids?
« Reply #18 on: February 25, 2014, 07:47:35 AM »
Being cold is a stressor on the body and could make your kids more vulnerable to the germs that do come their way.  I stay each winter with a friend who keeps her house very cool, and I do feel chilly while I'm there.  And sure enough, every single time I come down with a virus on the 5th or 6th day.  This has happened so many times that I've decided to stop staying there in the winter.  So I think raising the temperature while your kids are recovering is not a bad move.  If you turn it back down and they come down with illnesses again, you have your answer.  The health of your children is certainly more important than saving a few bucks on the gas bill, so keep track.

Do you have evidence of this? I don't see anything supporting this and you aren't using any numbers. There is an bit of a difference between 30 and 60 F in terms of how your body handles it.

kolorado

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Re: Keeping heat low not good for kids?
« Reply #19 on: February 25, 2014, 08:33:07 AM »
My kids are very low in the 5th percentiles. I keep the house at 62* around the clock with one hour bursts of 64* at 7am, 3pm and 7pm. This is to account for getting dressed, recovering from outside time and bathing. If they are cold they tell me so. Then I suggest they put on a sweatshirt of use a lap blanket. :P They've always adjusted to a cold house within a month or so of winter temps. To the point that it isn't uncommon for them to run around the house in shorts and t-shirts in February. In my experience, the house is too cold when the kids are lethargic(on windy days when the heat can't seem to keep up with a 62* setting).
 Adding moisture to the house may be your best bet for quicker recoveries. I also hang laundry to dry in the basement. It increases the house humidity somewhat, a couple of percentage points on the hydrometer.
 Most cultures believe that cold temperatures are good for kids. Mothers in Denmark leave their napping babies outside in the winter: http://joannagoddard.blogspot.com/2011/09/motherhood-mondays-prams-in-denmark.html I practiced this occasionally when we lived in NJ(very mild winters). They slept so much better out there it was unreal. It just made me very nervous with neighborhood dogs and general American Motherhood paranoia. :/

T-Rex

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Re: Keeping heat low not good for kids?
« Reply #20 on: March 05, 2014, 02:34:35 AM »
Well, I'm not sure about colds, but every degree in temperature counts when you are trying to revive someone in shock, with the outcome becoming more grim with each degree it drops. I tend to think most people in normal climates are supposed to maintain a certain temperature. It shouldn't matter as much if you are dressed appropriately for whatever weather you are in.

greatreader

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Re: Keeping heat low not good for kids?
« Reply #21 on: May 01, 2014, 06:52:10 PM »
Found this by googling "Cardiff University Common Cold":

 Can a chill cause a cold?

Folklore indicates that chilling such as getting your feet wet in winter and going out with wet hair may cause a common cold but until recently there has been no scientific research to support this idea. Recent research has demonstrated that chilling may cause the onset of common cold symptoms5. A study at the Common Cold Centre in Cardiff UK in 2005 took 90 students and chilled their feet in cold water for 20 minutes and showed that the chilled group had twice as many colds over the next 5 days as a control group of 90 students whose feet were not chilled. The authors propose that when colds are circulating in the community some persons carry the virus without symptoms and that chilling the feet causes a constriction of blood vessels in the nose and this inhibits the immune response and defences in the nose and allows the virus to replicate and cause cold symptoms. The chilled person believes they have caught a cold but in fact the virus was already present in the nose but not causing symptoms.

HSH Princess Grace

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Re: Keeping heat low not good for kids?
« Reply #22 on: May 08, 2014, 11:17:40 AM »
Actually, there are a number of new medical journal articles about warmer homes contributing to SIDS in babies.  Most of the research supports the idea that a cooler house is better than a warmer house.  I live in South Florida and based on this research have chosen to spend lots of my hard earned money to keep my house as cold as possible.

agent_clone

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Re: Keeping heat low not good for kids?
« Reply #23 on: May 11, 2014, 07:34:35 AM »
Like happy I live in Australia.  I remember having a oil fin heater on at night in my room when I was young in winter (maybe 4?).  But certainly when I was a bit older than that there was no heater.  The current house I am in gets down to 8C (46F) in the middle of winter overnight, I think my parents house is a couple of degrees cooler than that or would have been when I was growing up.  My parents place doesn't have central heating. In winter the Lounge room is heated when occupied, and if someone is in there maybe the lounge room in the flat is heated.  Thermostat is set to 20C (68F) for those rooms.  My sister and I also had heaters for our individual rooms.  We did have winter and summer doonas and getting out of bed in the morning can be a bit of a trial as your doona is nice and warm.

My sister and I were reasonably healthy.

Outside temperatures can get down to -7C (19F) overnight but most frequently it is around -1C (30F) in winter.  In summer the minimum temperature can be anywhere from 5-20C (41-68F), and the windows would have been open at night in summer to cool the house down (This last summer we had one day where the temperature went from 13.9C to 39.3C (57.02F - 102.74F )).  Personally I find it harder to get to sleep in temperatures of 24C+ (75F).

Edit: Oh I should add, the bathroom had only a little radiant heater for heat in winter as well, so it would have been freezing in there.
« Last Edit: May 11, 2014, 07:36:27 AM by agent_clone »

happy

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Re: Keeping heat low not good for kids?
« Reply #24 on: May 12, 2014, 06:54:57 AM »
Huh I grew up in shoebox…

I have to say I grew up in a house in Sydney with no fixed heating. The bedrooms were always unheated day and night. We closed off the living spaces and used used a wood fire or a variety of fan heaters/radiators in the living room. When I was very young I remember an old kerosene heater.  We weren't allowed any sort of electric heater (fan or radiator) in the bathroom because it was considered too dangerous.

I would get changed as fast as possible into my PJs and scoot back into the living room, sit on top of the heater to get warm, then race into bed before I got cold. We could fill hot water bottles, but had to brave the cold again filling them up in the bathroom.


sheepstache

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Re: Keeping heat low not good for kids?
« Reply #25 on: May 13, 2014, 09:53:24 AM »
Huh I grew up in shoebox…

Aye, you were lucky to have a shoebox...

Ottawa

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Re: Keeping heat low not good for kids?
« Reply #26 on: May 13, 2014, 10:10:17 AM »
I checked on this years ago with a doctor because I keep the heat at 62, and lower at night.  (My theory is why not wear winte clothes in winter.). The doctor said it was perfectly fine to have a cool house.  I did make sure that when my daughter was very young she was dressed warmly at night, with a little fleece suit, so she shouldn't be cold if she kicked the covers off.  The doctor emphasized what has already been mentioned...colds come from viruses, not the cold

I agree.  I believe this is a causative vs correlative problem. 

If one were to test the proposition that 'moderate cool temperature is a stressor' i.e. the cool house made me sick, I would pair with an alternate proposition such as 'moderate heat is a stressor' i.e. the hot house made me sick.  Is there any differential support for temperature as a stressor?  Seems unlikely and the evidence (or lack of) seems to support.  Therefore, correlative = Yes and causative = No (as such, practice Mustachian temperature control to no detriment)

However, since the evidence would suggest more people get sick in the winter than in the summer what other agents might be a factor?  I think the simple explanation is that more humans are in close proximity (in cold conditions) and viruses spread more under such conditions.  There are probably a bunch of other factors too...like sunlight exposure, SAD, stress etc...that exacerbate the problem.

a couple sense (:-)) worth.

ZsMom

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Re: Keeping heat low not good for kids?
« Reply #27 on: May 18, 2014, 10:57:37 PM »
Yes a medical professional.

What you're doing is fine.  Keep them dressed appropriately. Cold temps like this are not good for new babies though - they don't regulate heat well, and you don't want to overbundle especially for night/sleeping etc.  You mentioned kids 3+ so you're good.

Consider looking into other things to keep their immune systems top notch.  Good nutrition, adequate sleep.  Consider fish oil or cod liver oil, vitamin D for all.