The Climate War: air conditioning battle of the sexes

It’s so coooold, it’s too hot, I can’t handle this, turn it down, turn it up…I hear this at work on a daily basis. I think the battle of the sexes when it comes to air-con is inevitable in most office environments. And the problem is real enough according to a study published in Nature Climate Change: women are suited to an average office temperature about 3C warmer than men.

It’s all down to metabolic rate – that’s the amount of heat produced by the body at rest. A woman’s metabolic rate is generally lower than a man’s; therefore they tend to prefer office temperatures at around 25C, while men prefer 22C. The problem is that climate control in office buildings is based on a comfort standard first set in the 1960s, which was based on the metabolic rate of a 40-year old, 70kg man. Let’s get with the times.

Here at Chapman’s, this is what we do to fight the chill:

  • Dress appropriately – stick a jumper on the back of your chair that you can put on if you’re chilly.
  • Make sure you’re not sat under any air conditioning vents.  If you are and it’s bothering you, speak to someone about it as an arrangement can sometimes be made.
  • Install a good HVAC system (I’m not just saying that because I’m in this industry, promise!) – this is priceless. Having a system that constantly ensures the office stays at the same temperature throughout the day so employees know what to expect is vital. No one wants gusts of freezing air do they?
  • Keep the office temperature at 25C as opposed to 22C – another study has found that people working in warmer conditions make fewer mistakes and have increased productivity.
  • Check the room temperature with an electric portable thermometer on a daily basis. This will ensure that the room temperature remains constant rather than varying.
  • Over door heaters can eliminate drafts entering the offices when the door opens and closes, and prevents the air-conditioned air from escaping the building. Unfortunately, they use a lot of energy and they may not be a feasible option for some organisations.