When it comes to summer in Idaho, specifically Boise, there’s no shortage of triple digit days! Every time the temperatures start to soar, the age-old debate begins in homes and offices alike…what temperature should the thermostat actually be set at? 

A report shared by Gray News, which owns KMVT in Twin Falls, has people riled up over the suggested temperature in the article! The heating and cooling expert they spoke to recommended following the “20 degree rule.” Are you familiar with that rule? We certainly never heard of it before. The rules say that in order to keep your home comfy and cool in the summer months, you should set your thermostat no lower than 20 degrees from what the thermometer reads outside. 

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If high temperatures in Boise were always around average, that doesn’t seem too bad. On an average July day, that means you’d be running your thermostat at 72-73º and about 70-71º in August. But if there’s one thing that every Idahoan knows about our weather, it’s that it can be unpredictable and anything but “average.” 

Olivier Le Moal
Olivier Le Moal

The expert in the article actually says you should set your thermostat at 80º on a 100º day. Our mouths dropped when we read that. 80º?! At our home, that’s the agreed upon indoor temperature the apartment has to get to in order to turn on the air for the first time. 80º indoor is when everyone in the house starts sweating from places they didn’t know could sweat. 

And it appears we’re not alone. When KMVT shared the post on their Facebook page, more than 250 commented. We skimmed the responses but it appears that not a single person agreed with the suggestion.

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Why Use the 20º Rule?

While we’ll laugh at the idea of leaving the thermostat at 80º on a triple digit day, we’re a bit curious how they arrived at that number. The report was originally written by a different Gray Media affiliate in Birmingham, Alabama. The Alabama Power representative they talked to explained that most air conditioners only have the capability to lower the temperature in your home by about 20º from what’s happening outdoors. Setting it much lower means you’re wasting energy, which means you’re wasting money while not getting the results you expect. 

What Does Idaho Power Say?

While we noticed that a local HVAC business made a similar recommendation on their website, Idaho Power doesn’t necessarily agree. On their cooling resources page they say:

Check your thermostat setting. Most people can be comfortable between 74-78 degrees.

We're gonna say "hard pass" to the 20º rule. Just the thought of coming home to an 80º apartment after wok is making us sweat!

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