As the calendar shifts from the rebirth of spring to the sweltering heat of summer in this part of the world, here are five stats to mark the occasion:
1. Summer isn’t most people’s favorite time.
I guess New Englanders don’t like the cold fronts of spring, while Southerners don’t like the sweltering heat of summer.
2. Seventy-two degrees is usually fair.
A National Opinion Research Center poll last year asked those with central air conditioning what temperatures they set their thermostats to during the day and night. During the day, the most popular answer was 72 degrees. During the night, the most popular answer was 72 degrees.
There is a wide range of data, with some people going as high as 55 degrees and others as high as 76 degrees. In fact, 13% of all those with central air conditioning said they slept in a temperature of 67 degrees or less during the summer. About 40% to 45% of people said they kept their thermostats above 72 degrees during the day and night.
What most Americans agree on is that having air conditioning is better than not having it. A 2019 CBS News poll asked whether Americans would rather have the windows open or the windows closed with the air conditioning on on a hot summer day. The big winner was windows closed with the air conditioning on at 65%, compared to 30% who said the windows were open.
3. Not going on vacation this weekend? Same here.
If people don’t go on vacation, it will be because of prices. Gasoline, flight, hotel and accommodation prices have been listed as far more important factors in planning summer vacations than determining time off or the coronavirus scare.
4. Most people just want to relax in the summer.
If summer is known for taking vacations, then what do we actually want to do on those vacations? Well, it seems most of us just want to be lazy.
That same Washington Post poll found that 76% of Americans said relaxing was something they liked to do on vacation. The next step (and within the margin of error of this result) was to eat out (75%). Going to the beach or swimming pool took third place with 65%.
No other option reached majority.
5. Summer vacation ends at many different times.
As quickly as summer started, I hate to tell you it will end just as quickly. When I was a child, Labor Day marked this point. It was then that school, to my great eternal hatred, started again. Polls show that more people think Labor Day marks the end of summer than the autumnal equinox.
That year, 2% of students nationwide returned to school by August 2. Almost half (43%) were back in school by mid-August. This included the majority of students from the Interior South (i.e. Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and Texas).
This might explain why I’ve always felt like back-to-school ads aired too early in the summer. It turns out that for many children, summer simply ended earlier.