Sweltering Hot vs. Freezing Cold Weather: Which Do You Like?

Warm weather. Cold weather. We might prefer one or the other. Or we might not have a preference and love both.

The weather is different all around the world. Some countries have four seasons. Other parts of the world especially countries close to the equator don’t have four seasons and pretty much have a steady temperature all year round.

Hot or cold weather. Different climates, different temperatures.

Hot or cold weather. Different climates, different temperatures.

For as long as I can remember, I never liked cold weather. Never like it when the temperature dips below 20’C (68’F) in Melbourne and any place really. Summer is my favourite season and a day 30’C (86’F) or over is something I love. When I lived in Singapore, I loved that each and every day was a tropical, humid balmy 26’C (78’F) or more.

What’s warm or cold to someone may not necessarily be the case for someone else. Naturally each of us are suited to and like different kinds of weather and have varying degrees of tolerance towards different temperatures.

There are pros and cons of living in each kind of climate. Hot or cold, most of the time we need to put up with the weather as it is to get on with our lives.

Hot vs. cold weather

1. Clothing

The warmer it is, the less we need to wear. The colder it is, the more we need to bundle up.

The warmer it is, the less items of clothing we need to pick out each day and chances are the quicker we can put together an outfit. The colder it is, usually we need to layer up; there’s more clothes to be bought, more washing to be done. Living in places where the weather changes erratically or a place such as Melbourne where we can actually experience four seasons in a day, it’s a good idea to have an extra jacket in the bag…if we carry a bag out.

No matter how many acrylic and woollen layers I wear during Melbourne’s winter that hovers around 5-13’C (41-55’F), I still feel cold. When I lived in tropical Singapore for seven years, I rejoiced throwing on just a shirt and shorts and leaving the house like that each day. I rejoiced at the humidity, moisturising my skin and throat, rejoiced at the tropical warmth making my body feeling not numb but warm, and really didn’t mind sweat magically pulsing out of my pores.

How hot or cold it is can affect how we look and how we feel.

How hot or cold it is can affect how we look and how we feel.

2. Mood and getting around

Perhaps the warmer the weather, the happier we feel and the cooler it is the more contemplative we are. When it’s warm, many of us seem to like venturing outdoors for a walk or a trip to the beach or just somewhere to unwind and relax. When it’s cooler, many of us seem to like staying indoors, curling up on the couch and reading or watching TV.

With cooler months come cooler temperatures and longer nights. During this time some of us might suffer from seasonal affective disorder (SAD), which is when our mood plummets as daylight decreases leading to bouts of depression. A questionnaire conducted by Swinburne University hypothesised 3-4% of Australians could be affected by SAD and noted a drop in mood among Australians during winter. On the other hand, research by Auburn University in 2016 found there is no correlation between depression and seasons based on analysing survey responses collected from participants present n different sunlight conditions. Interestingly enough, research on human performance shows we’re more alert when our body temperature is high. That would explain why it’s harder for many of us to get out of bed in winter, harder to fall asleep in warm weather.

While I’m nocturnal and feel most alert at night, I do like daylight. I love long summer days and sleep better during summer nights. There’s something inviting about light and warmth: to be able to both see action and ambience around you, and hence feel what’s around you. Also, in warm and dry weather, there’s no need to worry about driving through snow or roads laced with ice. However, it might be uncomfortable driving in summer heat if the car doesn’t have air-conditioning and trains in Melbourne either run slower or get cancelled when it’s 35’C (95’F )or more.

3. Things to do outdoors

Whether warm or cold, rain, hail or shine, there’s plenty to do outdoors. Wearing the right attire, we can walk, run, hike, climb a hill, cycle and shop anytime of the year. Even if the weather is too warm or too cold for our liking, if we’re determined enough to go out and experience the world and provided there’s no safety risk, then no reason why not.

As such, no reason why we can’t exercise in most kinds of weather. Notably while a cold body needs more energy to warm up and get moving comfortably, this doesn’t necessarily mean we burn more calories exercising in cold weather. Rather, as metabolism researcher Aaron Cypress argues, sitting around shivering in the cold burns more brown fat and calories than exercising.

It's possible to venture out in most kinds of climate.

It’s possible to venture out in most kinds of climate.

4. Health

Each of our bodies are genetically and biologically unique and so will react differently to different kinds of weather. When it’s spring or summer, some of us might get hayfever, need to wear sunglasses to stop squinting in bright sunlight, get heat rashes or get dehydrated.

When it’s autumn or winter, we might get cold hands, suffer from hypothermia and frostbite, and maybe be more susceptible to catching a cold or flu. Notably, a study on human behaviour and personality spanning 1.6 million participants in the US and China found the temperature which we are most emotionally stable in is 22’C (72’F). That said, conditions such as asthma, dry skin and any chronic illness can flare up in any kinds of weather.

Living in humid Singapore, I never experienced hayfever even around blooming flowers but am a target for mosquitoes. Living in Australia, hayfever hits me hard in the warmer months but I’m not too popular with mosquitoes here. No matter the cons, I’ll always love warm weather.

5. Cooking and eating

What we cook each season depends on seasonal produce available, either grown locally or imported. Depending on the season, we may prefer certain comfort foods. Often colder weather triggers a survival instinct within us and many of us are prone to eat more.

Ice-cream, icy poles, cold drinks and salads tend to be the choice foods in summer. On the other hand, hot chocolate, soups and hearty roasts are usually popular go-to foods in cooler months. When we’re done cooking at home in the cooler months, we might find ourselves opening the windows to get rid of lingering cooking smells – and face the wrath of cold winds coming into our house.

6. Insulation at home

When we’re at home, we want to feel comfortable and ambient temperature plays a part in that. Turning on the air-conditioner or fan is one way to cool the house down on a hot day. Cranking up the heater makes the house less chilly in winter. Or we may use a reverse cycle or split system air-conditioner for all seasons, all year round. Which kind of conditioning unit we use more really is dependent on when we feel we need it. Statistics by the Australian Energy Regulator show Australians seem to use more electricity in the summer months.

I’ve never been a fan of using the heater or air-conditioner at home. Both make the air drier in my place and my eyes and throat get dry as a result, and using either adds hundreds of dollars to my electricity bill. I really don’t mind summer heat of up to 40’C (104’F), and a fan is enough to keep me cool on these days. As much as I hate layering up, that’s what I do at home in winter to stay reasonably warm.

Each of us feels comfortable in different temperatures.

Each of us feels comfortable in different temperatures.

7. Bugs

No matter the season, there’ll be insects and creepy crawlies around. In Australia, dry summer warmth tends to invite more snakes and spiders to the backyard. Warmth and dampness can bring around more dust mites and mosquitoes. Studies at the Woolcock Medical Research in Sydney show that people with allergies often come into closer contact with allergy sources in winter, and mould and mildew can circulate through heater air vents.

I’ve never encountered a snake in summer here in Melbourne, but I’ve had many spiders the size of a hand crawl through my bedroom window. Also when it’s 30’C (86’F) or more, annoying enough the smells and hence potentially bacteria from the rubbish chute in my apartment permeates out into the lobby.

* * *

A number of factors affect our individual tolerance for cold and hot weather. This could be the food that we eat, genetics, age, illnesses and just how well our body regulates and maintains its optimum temperature. The longer we live in a certain place, the more acclimatised we may become to the climate there, or at the very least learn to put up with it.

The more we live in a certain place, the more prepared we may be for certain weather conditions no matter how unpredictable these conditions may be. However nothing seems to be able to prepare me for temperatures less than 20’C (68’F). After more than a decade of living in Melbourne, winter still comes like a slap in the face to me each year. The cold makes it hard at times for me to breathe (partially due to asthma) but over the years I’ve discovered clothes such as wool jumpers that make my chest feel a bit better this time of the year.

Sometimes we get used to the weather, sometimes we don't.

Sometimes we get used to the weather, sometimes we don’t.

The weather impacts on how comfortable we feel, and inevitably an impact on mortality rates. In 2015, an international study analysing over 74 million deaths across the world found moderately cold weather kills 20 times as many people as hot weather. The same study found around 6.5% of deaths in Australia are attributed to cold weather, compared to 0.5% from hot weather. It’s also been suggested many Australian homes are glorified tents not prepared for cold temperatures.

Judging from some of the apartments I’ve lived in in Melbourne, perhaps this is true. Almost every night in winter there’s interior condensation on the double-glazed glass windows (or sweating windows) at the places I’ve stayed, up until the condensation rains down the glass and I’ve to spend time wiping it all up while I’m shivering. Wet windows inside is usually a sign of inadequate ventilation and poor air circulation indoors.

Interestingly enough, while heat and light can make us feel better, it also has the potential to make us hot and bothered. The summer months in Australia are usually the highest months for homicide, with murder rates rising with temperature in Darwin – more warm nights out, more tipple consumed, the higher likelihood of aggression.

When we feel comfortable with the weather, it's one less thing to worry about.

When we feel comfortable with the weather, it’s one less thing to worry about.

Living in a place that’s too hot or too cold for one to handle isn’t ideal. The more comfortable we are with the weather, the more we can get on with our lives and focus on what we want to do and most importantly, feel at home. Most of us reading this will probably live in a place that’s moderately hot or cold temperature-wise. However it’s possible to live in extreme weather such a living in a desert or within the Arctic Circle (think places reaching 40’C (104’F) or -30’C (-22’F) ) or experiencing raging monsoons many days in a year. The adventurous among us probably wouldn’t mind experiencing these kinds of climate extremes on a once-in-a-lifetime vacation. I’m all up for experiencing warm weather extremes, just not cold.

At the end of the day, I’d much rather sweat than shiver. Much rather feel sweaty and sticky than numb to the bone. To me, feeling warm is not just being able to feel what’s around me, but it also means feeling the present moment and being present where I am.

Do you prefer living in a warmer or colder climate?

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225 thoughts on “Sweltering Hot vs. Freezing Cold Weather: Which Do You Like?

  1. Beautiful images Mabel, I especially love the warm colours of Autumn 🍁 We live in the North of Scotland and love what we call ‘freshness’, brought to us by the Northern winds. Every season brings its own magic here and I treasure these changes in the landscape, in the light and in the weather each season brings 🙂💖

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  2. I’d have to go with the cold weather, Mabel. If there is one thing that makes me grumpy, it’s hot humid weather. I dislike being sweaty and not being able to cool down. I dislike the air being so still and humid that it’s hard to breathe. I dislike sleepless nights when it’s too hot and humid and the air is heavy. I remember those summer nights when living in London.
    There are only so many clothes you can take off when trying to cool down, but you can always put on another layer to keep warm. I don’t often get cold. In fact, I’ve been known to go out on cold frosty mornings in just shorts and a light jacket over a polo shirt. A brisk walk soon gets me warmed up. ❄️
    I’m already looking forward to the first Autumn frosts of the season.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It does sound like you and cool weather get along better, Hugh. It also sounds like London can be quite warm, and humid too which makes it uncomfortable. Hopefully no more of those sleepless hot summer nights for you now in Swansea.

      I am the complete opposite of you. No matter how many layers I put on, I still feel the chill in cold weather. Shorts on cold frosty mornings is quite something… If you ever come to Australia in the winter, I think you’ll be comfortable in shorts 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • My sister has just been over to the UK for three weeks. She’s lived in Brisbane for 15 years and says that winter is Brisbane is perfect for her. 😀I could definitely see myself wearing shorts in winter in Brisbane, Mabel. Summer, though, in Brisbane, is a different matter.

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  3. This is such a relevant post given the way climate change is making for more extreme climates, Mabel. I prefer warmer weather over colder, and I am blessed to live in the mild comfort of Canada’s West coast. With that being said, we are in the midst of a heat wave now and I find it really impacts how alert I feel – it makes me tired! I also have to exercise in the morning or evening as otherwise it’s not going to be a very long run workout! I hope you have a beautiful rest of your weekend ♥

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    • So true that climate change is resulting in more climate extremes. Sounds like you are comfortable living on Canada’s west coast, and hopefully that heatwave doesn’t get any more unbearable for you. Good luck with exercising and I’m sure you can find something that works for you any kind of weather ❤

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  4. Hello Mabel,
    Wow, this is a challenging question. When I was younger, I would have said “hot weather” but as I get older, I feel myself less tolerant of heat and humidity. Therefore, if I *had* to choose, I would choose cold weather. I hope you are doing well 🙂
    Best wishes from hot & humid Japan,
    Takami

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I’d rather swelter than shiver also. But when I lived in the SF Bay area, I had the best of all worlds. In the winter it was never too cold – perhaps 50 during the day, but some days, 65. In the summer, cool and foggy, but some days maybe up to 80 (rare). But, most of us don’t have choices about where we live, so we just deal with the weather we’re given. I’m in the New England area now, where it’s super hot and humid this summer (sweltering) but still, I can walk early in the morning or later at dusk. In the winter, it’s cold and snowy – not my favorite. ;-0

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  6. Canada does have contrasting weather in different regions. Approx. lst 40 yrs. I lived in southern Ontario where summers regularily are 25-30+degrees C with nearly 90-100% humidity. There are smog alerts. Yes, we did go on bike trips in such temp….cycling for hrs.

    Where we are in Alberta, it’s hot but dry. These past few summer days have been 30+ degrees C with some forest fire smoke from 200 km. northwest of us. There is a heat alert. Forest fires in different parts of British Columbia and Alberta right now.

    Where we live is the coldest I’ve ever experienced dry but very cold often -15 to -20 degrees C. Several days per winter @ -35 to -40 degrees C. Again there is a very cold warning against getting frostbite.

    Vancouver is lovely however it does get consistent hrs. of rain in winter and late fall months.

    So I prefer Vancouver’s weather. If not that, then hot but dry summers no more than 30 degrees C. I am fine with winter down to -20 degrees C –but only if it’s dry air not humid cold air and wind under 20 km./hr. 🙂 I’m pretty specific but this is a very wide range of temperatures that I can live easily with for rest of my life. 🙂

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    • You provided such a great overview of the weather all around Cananda, Jean. It must have been challenging cycling in those temperatures, high humidity and smog…would have guessed at the end of each cycling trip. Forest fires is definitely something dangerous especially wen deliberately lit. We get forests fires in Australia each summer, and quite a few of them are a result of vandalism and being deliberately lit.

      That is pretty cold winters in Alberta and hope you haven’t gotten too bad a case of frostbite. Vancouver does sound quite pleasant weather-wise but I think for those who love heat, its winters can still be rather cold 🙂

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  7. “When it’s warm, many of us seem to like venturing outdoors for a walk or a trip to the beach or just somewhere to unwind and relax. When it’s cooler, many of us seem to like staying indoors, curling up on the couch and reading or watching TV.”

    I work the other way around – the heat wave we have had in Sweden for 3 1/2 months has totally blurted out my summer. During summer I usually do the things you describe, and I also love hiking with my dog(s). But this summer – nothing was possible…. Three months in a sauna, I really have stayed indoors almost all the time, because sitting inside the house is the only way to stay reasonably cool and sane. Indoors about 26-27C and outdoors 30-36C in the shadow. Which means at worst more than 50 degrees in the sun.
    Unfortunately, this has been a marathon just to stay alive. My new puppy has been packed in wet cloth.

    I agree we adapt if we stay in the same place for years, but also that we maybe like it best as it was where we were born. Many years ago, I checked out at what temperature I felt best, function on top and feeling at ease – and it is 23 C. Imagine my surprise when scientists (you wrote it…) had concluded 22 C!

    Of course we are all different – which almost always is a good thing and for a reason. I hate feeling sweaty and if I had to choose, I would chose cold over hot, because when it is cold, I can put on clothes – when it is hot, I cannot doff my skin. I have always envied those who can stand heat well. My daughter has the same difficulties as I have, but my son and husband are alike…they like it hot… This summer though, the two of them thought it was too much. Maybe one month is OK, but 3 1/2… And no home made bread or cakes, not much warm food. Impossible to stand in the kitchen making it even hotter.

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    • From what you have said and from reading your blog, it does sound like a warmer than usual summer for you. If you aren’t used to that weather, it can be uncomfortable to adjust. Sometimes the best way to cope from weather you are not used to is stay indoors – indoors at least you can control to some degree how cool or warm your home can be, and also refreshments available and really out of the wild elements. It sounds like your puppy is finding it hard to cope. Maybe he might need some icy treats.

      Although I like hot, I have to agree with you if it’s every day hot, it can be a bit of a bother. Like you said, it can be hard to make bread or cakes when the weather is hot. Sometimes when it gets to 35-40’C in Australia’s summer, definitely no cooking in my house and we get takeaway (and spend more money…) – when we cook, we open the windows for ventilation and in such hot weather the hot air just comes in. Stay cool, Leya. Autumn is coming for you soon ❤

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  8. Loved your photos Mabel… And yes extreme weather for sure around the world.. And I so enjoyed my read.. I can relate to many things you have brought up as topics here..
    Layering up is something we always do in our winters and last year with the ‘beast from the East’ as weather channels on the TV had dubbed the winter chill factor that swept across Britain plunging temperatures down to minus 14C… It was very cold..
    And yes when its colder we often eat lots more food.. We love stews, with our potatoes and leeks and parsnips..
    While I love warm weather compared to such winters.. This Summer here has also been the extreme.. and we are not geared up with air-conditioning etc in our homes… So the 30C plus we have had has been too hot for me.. Sultry humid nights and not much sleep, even with the electric fan blowing the air around.. 🙂

    Now when I have been abroad in the heat of the Summer… Its not a problem. it seems a different sort of heat.. Fresher and more comfortable..

    So I think if I had to choose between Summer or Winter.. It would have to be SPRING!…. Not quite as cold and not quite as hot…
    Loved your thoughts on this Mabel.. ❤

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    • So lovely to hear you enjoyed your read and time here, Sue. Writing is the best way I express myself 😊 Minus 14’C does sound very cold, and in those instances rugging up would be very important. Food can help keep you warm…but definitely not overeat and overconsume calories 😛

      So sorry to hear that sultry humid nights have been uncomfortable for you. I would happily trade that with our winter nights here. Hopefully you at least have a fan to help you keep cool, and at the very least keep in the shade.

      Spring usually gives me hayfever, and Spring here in Melbourne can be quite frigid! Hope you are well, Sue. Take care of your allotment and most importantly yourself ❤

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      • Thank you Mabel, we are well, and we enjoyed the company of our granddaughter yesterday.. She came with us to the allotment to see how her Pumpkin she set was growing.. And it looking like it will be a huge one by the time its finished growing..

        And I can sympathise with your Hay-fever… Not nice.. My hubby only recently started with this annoyance.. And he has worked outdoors all his life, yet only the last few years its started to irritate his eyes etc.. Makes me wonder if its not other things in our atmosphere rather than just the pollen..
        Take care too my friend… And remember that it is important to look after ourselves.. ❤ Mega Hugs Mabel.. ❤

        Liked by 1 person

        • That is amazing to hear your granddaughter’s pumpkin will be a huge one this year. So many things to make with it, and I’m sure it will be delicious to serve up. Very exciting 🙂

          That is a downer to hear hayfever is flying around your hubby. Maybe it could be a lifetsyle change that brought it on, or as you said it could really be our atmosphere or what’s in the air right now. Hopefully he finds some relief and it’s not something that goes on all year round. Take care indeed and yes, it is so important to look after ourselves. Mega mega hugs ❤

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          • Thanks Mabel.. its not bothering him at the moment.. He finds that the fields, especially when we travel into the countryside where they plant rape-seed-oil.. In spring the fields are full of the yellow blooms and the air is heavily scented.. It doesn’t bother me, but it sets him sneezing.. Then other times he doesn’t know what triggers it..
            As for the pumpkin I took a photo yesterday with our granddaughter and may post on my gardening blog.. for a short update.. We have been busy on the plot again.. ❤

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  9. No prizes for guesssing which type of weather suits me! I get energized by the cold and whilst it higher humidity is moisturizing, it is also clogging of my sweat pores! It sure is interesting how weather occupies so much of our conversation and thoughts! We finally got some light rain today after months of drought. Is it warming up down your way now. This week is the start of our spring/summer, the middle of the day is already in the mid twenties.

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    • Weather is usually fill-in banter when we are with someone we just met or don’t know too well. It’s not exactly warming up here yet, no where near mid-twenties and nights are still down to single digits. But the days are certainly getting longer and the sunlight seems stronger 🙂

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  10. Pingback: Sweltering Hot vs. Freezing Cold Weather: Which Do You Like? — Mabel Kwong – SEO

  11. Which do I like? None of the above. Take away the words “sweltering” and “freezing”, then we’re okay. I’d choose hot ’cause I can cool off using an electric fan or air-conditioning, stay under a cool shade, and play outdoor stuff. It’s harder to stay warm when it’s cold. After a warm drink, the cold goes back. And you have to wear more clothes. The only positive sides are lots of hugs and the warm(!) feeling of Christmas 🙂

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    • Hehe, you seem like the in-between weather kind of person. I also agree it’s harder to stay warm when cold. The cold always has a habit on creeping up on you and seeping into your bones, especially at night when you sleep.

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      • I used to get cold easier as well and my usual illnesses have to do with colds. So my non-existing problem that I worried about before was what if I had to live abroad where it’s cold? Could I handle it? These recent years, I’ve found that I don’t get cold easily anymore. It’s a rare occasion. I don’t even use a blanket when I sleep. My husband would be all covered up in blanket and I would just be “chillin'” even in my shorts.

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