Hypothermia and energy conservation: a tradeoff for elderly persons?

Int J Aging Hum Dev. 1989;29(2):151-61. doi: 10.2190/5QQU-U15H-PB8U-M8VP.


For many elderly people, residential energy conservation options are often limited to little or no cost measures such as reducing their winter nighttime thermostat setting. As a result, conflicts can arise between the need to preserve health and the necessity to conserve energy. Under these circumstances, accidental hypothermia is an important and growing concern. This study examines the association between concern for health and the adoption by elderly persons of a lowered winter nighttime thermostat setting. Evidence from two surveys of elderly respondents who maintain separate owner-occupied residences shows that health and thermal comfort concerns are the major reasons for nonadoption of this energy conservation measure. Methods are presented for increasing energy conservation while maintaining a healthful home environment.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Conservation of Natural Resources*
  • Educational Status
  • Female
  • Health Status
  • Heating*
  • Housing* / standards
  • Humans
  • Hypothermia / etiology*
  • Income
  • Male
  • United States