FLASHBACK – Jimmy Carter 1977: Set Winter Thermostat to 55 Degrees Overnight

U.S. president Jimmy Carter smiling at a podium in front of an American flag, 1970s. (Phot
Hulton Archive/Getty Images

As president, Jimmy Carter advised Americans to set their thermostats to 55 degrees overnight during the winter months to “waste less energy,” offering his guidance in a televised address to the nation on February 2, 1977, in the midst of a national natural gas shortage.

In laying out his proposed national energy policy, Carter did not call for reducing taxes on or regulation of the energy industry to incentivize increases in production. Instead, he prioritized “conservation.”


Carter said:

Our program will emphasize conservation. The amount of energy being wasted which could be saved is greater than the total energy that we are importing from foreign countries. We will also stress development of our rich coal reserves in an environmentally sound way; we will emphasize research on solar energy and other renewable energy sources; and we will maintain strict safeguards on necessary atomic energy production.

The responsibility for setting energy policy is now split among more than 50 different agencies, departments, and bureaus in the Federal Government. Later this month, I will ask the Congress for its help in combining many of these agencies in a new energy department to bring order out of chaos. Congressional leaders have already been working on this for quite a while.

We must face the fact that the energy shortage is permanent. There is no way we can solve it quickly. But if we all cooperate and make modest sacrifices, if we learn to live thriftily and remember the importance of helping our neighbors, then we can find ways to adjust and to make our society more efficient and our own lives more enjoyable and productive. Utility companies must promote conservation and not consumption. Oil and natural gas companies must be honest with all of us about their reserves and profits. We will find out the difference between real shortages and artificial ones. We will ask private companies to sacrifice, just as private citizens must do.

All of us must learn to waste less energy. Simply by keeping our thermostats, for instance, at 65 degrees in the daytime and 55 degrees at night we could save half the current shortage of natural gas.

There is no way that I, or anyone else in the Government, can solve our energy problems if you are not willing to help. I know that we can meet this energy challenge if the burden is borne fairly among all our people—and if we realize that in order to solve our energy problems we need not sacrifice the quality of our lives.

On April 18, 1977, Carter warned of a possible “national catastrophe” in the absence of broad-based “sacrifice” among Americans regarding energy consumption, predicting that “inflation will soar; production will go down; [and] people will lose their jobs.”

“We are now running out of gas and oil,” claimed Carter.

The Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) recommendation for Americans to keep their thermostats at 78 degrees during the day and 82 degrees at night during summer months is reminiscent of Carter’s aforementioned proposal, assessed Charles Hurt, Washington Times opinion editor and Breitbart News columnist.

Hurt joined Thursday’s edition of SiriusXM’s Breitbart News Daily with host Alex Marlow to discuss the EPA’s environmental focus.

“Remember the whole thing back when we were a nation in malaise under Jimmy Carter?” asked Hurt. “Actually my very first memory in life was waiting in gas lines in the little town I was living in, where I was born, and sitting in the back seat and it was so hot.”

Hurt continued, “Of course, back then, whether we had air conditioning in our cars or not I don’t remember, but it didn’t really work when you were in a line of hundreds of cars on the day that you were allowed to go to the gas station and fill up, and this was what Jimmy Carter brought on with his stagflation.”

Hurt went on, “What was [Jimmy Carter’s] recommendation? His recommendation for the winter months was to keep the furnace turned way down and to wear a sweater, and that encapsulates everything about Jimmy Carter, and sort of the leftist state.”


“It was was about government trying to meddle [and] interfere with every little aspect of your life, and that’s not what inspires Americans,” determined Hurt. “What inspires Americans are greater ideals, and so along comes this guy named Ronald Reagan, who is talking about things like freedom and how people are the kings and queens of their own domains, things like that, and of course, that’s what Americans care about. That’s what inspires America, and we saw what happened with the 1980 election.”

The EPA and broader left use narratives of “climate change” to justify increasing centralization of political power at the expense of human freedom, assessed Hurt.

“The thing about the EPA is it has nothing to do with science,” Hurt remarked. “It has nothing to do with the health of people. It has nothing to do with Mother Earth, or anything like that. It all has to do with control, and people like Bernie Sanders and the EPA, what they care about is control over other humans. It’s all about power and the power that they want to be the central planners that tell you every move that you make.”

Breitbart News Daily broadcasts live on SiriusXM Patriot 125 weekdays from 6:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. Eastern.

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