Rapid build-up of greenhouse gases is expected to increase Earth’s mean surface temperature, with unclear effects on temperature variability. This makes understanding the direct effects of a changing climate on human health more urgent. However, the effects of prolonged exposures to variable temperatures, which are important for understanding the public health burden, are unclear. Here we demonstrate that long-term survival was significantly associated with both seasonal mean values and standard deviations of temperature among the Medicare population (aged 65+) in New England, and break that down into long-term contrasts between ZIP codes and annual anomalies.