A recent study revealed that current office thermostats are set at 22C (72F) because a study conducted in the 1960s deemed it was the most comfortable temperature for office workers. However, in the 1960s, the average worker was a middle aged man wearing a blazer and long pants. Times have changed but the temperature in offices hasn’t. Now, almost half of all workers are female and the attire in many offices has gone casual. The study of current office workers found that the average women was comfortable at a setting of 25C yet office temperatures remain at 22C.
I am not surprised by the study’s findings. At least 3 degrees have separated my husband and I as long as we have lived together. In the winter I bundle up in heavy socks and warm sweaters. I snuggle into a blanket with a warm cup of tea to warm me up. He wears t-shirts. In the summer we battle over the air conditioner temperature setting. Seriously, it is constant maneuvering to adjust the temperature for the longest duration before the other notices.
At work, I have a sweater and blanket in my office. As the weather warms outside and the sun beams into the office, I get colder and colder as the air conditioner works harder and harder to keep the office climate controlled. As the men sit comfortably, I go for a walk outside to warm up.
I mentioned this study to one of the building maintenance (male) workers and got a sigh as he replied that he heard about the study. He quickly changed the subject. He was not about to start an office battle by agreeing with me.
In 2005 the Japanese government requested a temperature of 28C be set in all their government offices. The result over just three months was a 210 kWh savings in electricity, a 79 tonnes decrease in carbon emissions and a change in fashion to adapt to the changing needs of their clientele.
28C may be a bit difficult to get everyone’s buy-in, but even a few degrees adjustment to the thermostat would save some money, is good for the environment and is more comfortable for half the population. In addition to all those benefits, another recent study showed that people are more productive in a warmer office temperature.
I would certainly support a few degrees increase in temperature in my office over the summer. Would you?