Kristin Emery is a meteorologist at KDKA-TV in Pittsburgh, an O-R columnist, and writer for Total Health magazine and other publications. Kristin is a Washington native and a graduate of Washington High School and West Virginia University.

Temperatures have been all over the place this spring and now early summer. June had 20 days above 80 degrees but the first official 90- degree day of the year for Pittsburgh didn’t occur until Monday, June 28. Pittsburgh saw a high of only 66 on the 22nd, then soared to 92 on the 28th, and the wild swing continued with last week’s drop from the lower 90s back to the upper 70s.

It would be nice to have an even keel of temperatures for a week or so and (for me) preferably without a high dose of humidity. Even when we had days with lows in the 40s and highs in the upper 60s with abundant sunshine and dry air, some people still found a reason to complain about the weather, saying the mornings were too chilly. Really? I guess you can’t please all the people all of the time.

So what is your perfect temperature? This is a hot topic for debate, as everyone has their own preference and internal thermostat. A couple of my work colleagues had some fun with this eternal argument with one dubbing temperatures between 65 and 75 degrees the “Zone of Perfection” and another contending that temperatures between 72 and 82 are the “Spectrum of Perfection.”

What temperatures outdoors or indoors feels the best is open to wide interpretation and trying to adjust the thermostat indoors to please more than one person is nearly impossible. However, it’s interesting to look at why we feel too hot in certain temperatures and humidity levels. We are constantly churning out heat given off by all of our body processes and blood circulation; exhaling and evaporation keep us from overheating. So why don’t we feel comfortable when the air is the same as our body temperature (98.6 degrees)? When the ambient temperature matches that of our body temperature, we can’t cool ourselves. Humidity makes us feel sweaty because evaporation is slowed in damper air.

I did some digging on the internet and found varying opinions that 70 or 82 degrees is the optimal temperatures for comfort outdoors. However, one Australian study of 1.6 million people around the world in varying geographical regions found that the temperature that makes us the most agreeable, emotionally stable and open to new experiences is a pleasant 71.6 degrees. Scientists found that residents living in that comfortable environment most of the year exhibit more agreeableness and emotional stability than those living in hot or cold climates.

If 71.6 degrees is indeed the optimal temperature to be happy and healthy, that definitely gives the win to the “Zone of Perfection,” since the “Spectrum of Perfection” looks to be simply too hot. It also means San Diego absolutely must have the happiest and most agreeable residents, as their temperature hovers in that range along with low humidity all year. Sound like a good reason to do some field research there sometime!

Kristin Emery can be reached at

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