Peterson: Houses have many temperatures

I take weather seriously. In another life, I would be a meteorologist and be quite content working for the National Weather Service, tracking storms and whatnot.

We have more thermometers at home than I realized: four indoor, three outdoor, one in the garage and one in the attic.

The one in the attic is easily explained and never seen. I put the garage thermometer in the attic when I was insulating it a number of years ago during a hot, sunny August week. It was 150 degrees in the attic, brutally hot up there. In my haste to get the job done, I left the thermometer behind.

I’m always curious as to how hot it gets in the garage in the summer, and it’s usually 10 or 20 degrees hotter than it is outside. I don’t do anything with that information. I just have it. I know it’s not as hot as the attic, and it’s hotter than it is outside, and that just proves how much a difference insulation makes, since our garage has none.

The first indoor thermometer came with our house, which was built in 1960. It’s the thermostat for the furnace and air-conditioner, and it never registers an accurate temperature. You have to raise it a few degrees warmer than it really is in the winter and a few degrees cooler than it really is in the summer.

We know that because we have three other indoor thermometers. And one is next to the thermostat, and it’s digital, and I swear, it is accurate. That one is from La Crosse Technologies.

Another thermometer is in the Middle Room, and it’s small and simple, and I picked it up somewhere 20 or 25 years ago. It seems to keep an accurate temperature, although I won’t vouch for the humidity it records. We also have a weather radio in the room, and it receives constant weather updates for the area and can be particularly useful for storm advisories. There’s something wrong with it, as you can barely hear the voice behind the static.

The last indoor thermometer is in our bedroom on the north end of the house, the farthest point from the furnace and air-conditioner. It’s digital and very small, but it, too, is accurate, and it proves to us just how cold our bedroom gets in the winter and how warm it stays in the summer, usually by 4 or 5 degrees. We can tell it’s warm or cool, but it’s good to know it’s not our imaginations at work.

We have a thermometer outside our bedroom window, and really, it’s not much for accuracy. It gives you a general idea what the temperature is, but that’s about it. I’d take it down, but that’s too much work, and sometimes, close is good enough.

The thermometer outside the kitchen window on the west side of the house came with the house, and I think it has real mercury in it, not the fake, diluted kind of mercury I suspect bulb thermometers have now. Real mercury, a toxin, gives you an accurate reading of the temperature, that is until the sun hits it. Then all bets are off.

The third thermometer is part of the La Crosse Technologies indoor thermometer. It is tucked under the eave on the north side of our house, and by radio waves or magic, it sends a signal to the unit in the house, telling you what the temperature is outside, and it’s accurate. But the problem was, it didn’t work. Not for a couple of years. I did what I could to make it work, but nothing happened. Then, just the other day, it started registering the temperature. I was amazed and confounded.

The tradeoff seems to be in the La Crosse clock, which is somehow connected with the atomic clock in Boulder, Colorado. It now gives time for the eastern time zone. Not sure how to fix that, either. But I’ll settle for the bargain this fancy thermometer gives me: a 24-hour accurate measure of the outside temperature.

• Dick Peterson, who lives in Woodstock, is a mental-health advocate. He is a freelance writer and a former Northwest Herald Opinion Page editor. He can be contacted at

Loading more

Digital Access

Digital Access
Access from all your digital devices and receive breaking news and updates from around the area.

Home Delivery

Home Delivery
Local news, prep sports, Chicago sports, local and regional entertainment, business, home and lifestyle, food, classified and more! News you use every day! Daily, weekend and Sunday packages.

Text Alerts

Text Alerts
Stay connected to us wherever you are! Get breaking news updates along with other area information sent to you as a text message to your wireless device.

Email Newsletters

Email Newsletters
We'll deliver news & updates to your inbox. Plan your weekend and catch up on the news with our newsletters.