What is the legal or generally accepted as reasonable standard for providing heat in a child's room?

We are having a battle with our teenage son about this (most recently, we found that he had turned up the heat to 84°), and using every Google trick I can think of, I keep getting results about fevers or “how warm should I keep my baby’s room?” My wife and I feel like 68° to 70° F. is plenty sufficient, but he strenuously disagrees. I would like to show him something authoritative; he says he won’t accept the Wikipedia definition of “room temperature”, because his teachers have told him it is not a legitimate/credible source. :smack:

Criminal neglect charges are generally not filed in cases like that unless the child is kept in an unheated room or house. Tell him to suck it up. FYI, you can buy a lockable cover for a thermostat.

Have you considered getting him an electric blanket? I remember being absolutely freezing cold as I slept during my teen years. I’m sure it felt perfectly fine to everyone else in the house.

The electric blanket gave me the rest I needed and saved my Mom and I from resorting to fisticuffs.

Is he sitting around sweating profusely? Some people always feel cold, no matter what the temperature. Perhaps he has a circulation problem that should be looked at. You could always give him a portable heater he can use in his room…

if a person wears polypropylene long underwear, intended for outdoor winter use, under your clothes then you will be warm and without heavy clothes restrictions.

a space blanket, radiant heat reflector, and lofty quilts will keep a person toasty in bed.

you can elevate your body heat well above the ambient room heat.

Does he keep his door closed? In lots of houses, that will make a room ice cold. It does in mine, with the forced-air gas heat, air return in every room.

He needs a heated mattress pad if he’s too cold when he sleeps. And/or a snuggie if he’s playing video games.

Is he growing a lot, and doesn’t have a lot of body fat right now? he might really feel cold. Some of the suggestions like electric blankets and space heaters are good, but get one of the oil-filled radiant heaters, not the kind that blows air over an element. Thermal underwear is good too, but it might not be comfortable for him.

I had a down-filled comforter that my great-grandmother had brought from the old country, and my grandmother had made a nice cover for so the feathers didn’t give me allergies. It was heavy and cozy, and felt so good in the winter. I remember sleeping in socks and sometimes long underwear, because both my parents and my aunt and uncle believed in turning the heat down to like 60’F at night. But at my aunt and uncle’s, at least, all the bedrooms were upstairs, and all the kids had comforters.

That’s another point-- is his bedroom downstairs, and could it be upstairs?

It’s good that his teacher has taught him Wikipedia isn’t a reliable source. See if the dictionary defines “room temperature.”

Something I do in winter is get one of those “bean bags” ( actually I think they’re filled with wheat or some other grain).

Pop them in the micro for three minutes, then under the covers at the foot of the bed, right where my toes are. With the blankets trapping the heat, it stays warm for hours, and keeps my feet warm.

If your feet are cold, you’re cold. If your feet are warm, you’re warm.

Of course, it could all just be teenage rebellion… :slight_smile:

I have very low blood pressure and I am constantly cold in ‘room temperature’ environments. In my own house I have blankets and clothing available to mitigate, so I agree that he could legit actually be cold, especially at night.

Down blankets are amazing, heating pads or electric blankets are also nice, but if you can trust him with a space heater, that’s what I would go with.

It seems that there are several issues:

  1. The house thermostat may or may not be an accurate reflection of the temperature in his room.

  2. What temperature range generally considered comfortable?

  3. What temperature range is healthy?

  4. How to deal with someone who states they are uncomfortable without making the rest of the husehold uncomfortable or oterwise expending more energy and cost than you feel is necessary?

  5. Any legal requirement?

For #1 you can place a thermometer in his room and find out what the temperature actually is. Maybe his room is colder than the rest of the house.

For #2 Energy.gov recommends a winter setting of 68 while awake and cooler while asleep or away from the house. According to this BBC article, the average in the U.K in winter is 63.5 and

That likely answers #3 as well.

#4 is either tell him to suck it up, or give him a room specific option, such as a safer space heater of some sort on a timer, possibly one with a thermostat (I second the oil-filled electrics), or as suggested an electric blanket or a good set of thermal underwear. Heating the whole house for his comfort should not be under consideration.

#5? I dunno but keeping it heated over 60 probably has you covered legally.

The other approach of course is to challenge him to provide something authoritative that says over 68 is required.

See those little numbers in brackets in the Wikipedia text? Go down to the bottom of the page and find the original source of the material, and challenge his teacher to assert that “none of those citations are reliable”. Or click on the source and then call him in, and don’t even show him that you were directed there by Wikipedia.

Oof, I had originally just looked at the summary atop the Wiki article, which has no cite. The one down lower in the discussion that does have a footnote says 75 to 81 in winter, and 73 to 79 in summer. First off, that seems waayyy too high to me, and would be more ammunition for him than anything; secondly, isn’t that backward, to suggest a higher room temp in the winter than in summer? I have never heard of such a thing. [Hmmm…maybe he went in and quickly edited this in since we had our dustup earlier? I wouldn’t put it past him–he’s a clever lad.]

He does have one, although I only let him use it to warm up the bed before getting in it as I’m concerned about having that EMF generated around him all night. But he argues more in any case about when he is up and about.

I have tried to appeal to him to wear a sweater or at least a long sleeved shirt, but he stubbornly insists on wearing t-shirts and says anything else is uncomfortable. (In typical teen fashion, he also resists wearing coats/jackets outside even on freezing cold days.) Bottom line is that he is not really in the mode to be reasoned with, so I would like to end the argument by just showing him that we have no legal/societal responsibility as parents to provide him air heated beyond 70 degrees, and let him stew about it if he feels he must (and he does, LOL).

We do have thermometers in each room, more than one in some. We don’t have a central thermostat: each room has electric heaters, with dials on them but not temperature settings. He had adjusted for his own comfort, which got him up to 84 in there. We hadn’t even noticed for a few days because we aren’t constantly going in there and it didn’t affect the rest of the house.

Aha! This is the kind of thing I was hoping to find. Thank you!

We are stingy enough, I guess (honestly, we just can’t deal financially with huge electric bills) that we are not willing to let him heat up even just his own room to his heart’s desire. So I sense from the responses here that the fact that he’s only turning up the heat in his own room might make his position a little stronger from a societal POV; however, I’d still hope that I as a parent and the one who pays the electric bill have a right to set a limit of 70 degrees and tell him to suck it up if he doesn’t like it. He’s never been spanked, and gets treated pretty well in most ways I can think of, so I just don’t think he’s living under the monstrous totalitarian regime he imagines he is.

Missed the edit window: I notice that the energy.gov site does advise higher temps in summer than in winter (ten degrees higher, in fact, which seems a bit much: we go about five degrees higher). So weird that the Wiki deal advises higher temps in winter!

Whoa, that’s pretty wild how cool the average British home is, and then the government is encouraging people to go lower! It’s like Jimmy Carter on steroids. I think this passage will be very useful for my purposes, though:

This other thing I found though illustrates how different Americans tend to be about this:

Note that WHO only goes as high as 68 for “the sick, disabled, very old or very young”, while that same temp is “low” in the Cornell study. Personally, I’d be very uncomfortable in an office that was 77, and just fine in 68. (I’ve noticed I start feeling chilly at 66 degrees.)

You can subvert a lockable cover with an ice pack. 84 sounds fine to me, not unhealthy. Of course, heat’s expensive. Take it out of his allowance.

There you go… No less an authority that the President of the United States, appears on camera in a sweater and tells Americans it’s their patriotic duty to lower their thermostat to 68F and wear a sweater if they’re cold.

I never slept as well as I did in my step=sister and brother-in-law’s colonial Dutch farmhouse in upstate New York back in the 70’s. The heat was mostly provided by the fireplace, and upstairs must have gotten close to freezing at night, and that’s how all their kids slept too. A big thick comforter and a cold face was excellent for sleeping.

Legally, most of the laws on minimum heat I recall are about centrally heated apartment buildings and deal with a landlord’s responsibility to paying tenants… but off the top of my head, I think they typically are the bare minimum too, something like 68F at most.

As for “child abuse” situations, he would have to provide something more than “I am feeling uncomfortable in a normal temperature”. OTOH, it sound as much like pushing boundaries as anything. Like most kibitzers on the internet, since I don’t have any kids of my own, I will jump in and tell you how to manage yours properly. ( :slight_smile: ) It’s not a debating society, you’re the boss - he can play with his own thermostat when he’s all growed up and paying his own lodging and heating bills.

When I was a kid, the answer was:

I pay for the heat, and you can deal with it. When you have your own place you can set the heat to whatever you want.

Funny- now that I’m middle aged, that’s MY answer.

My father wouldn’t have bothered to argue, and neither would I. And if I touched the thermostat after being told not to, I would probably have the fear of God put into me.

Just sayin’

ETA: And if I had ever gone to my father wearing a t-shirt and complained about being cold, he’d probably have laughed in my face.

I agree that 84° is ridiculous, but 68° to 70° is pretty cold, and different people are wired to have different comfort zones. I know that I’d be miserable, with a constant, low-key, huddled-under-the-blankets energy-sapping sort of misery, if someone forced me to set the thermostat that low in my own home, and it would suck to be a teenager with no control over my own comfort. I understand the money- and energy-saving argument, but I’m definitely in the “let him set the temperature in his room at his own level and pay for it himself” camp, as other people have suggested.

They make (low voltage) DC electric blankets. While I don’t think there’s much evidence to support the EMF being a problem for humans, the DC electric blankets are also safer in that there is not 120 V AC in a wire that might have damaged insulation right against your skin. With DC, obviously, there’s no EMF because there is not a changing electric field.

I’ve seen them sold right at Walmart.