Why office air conditioning is sexist

If you work in an office, you have probably questioned your female workers as to why they are always cold no matter how many layers they have on. So we did some research on this as we knew something had to be up!
It turns out that most offices thermostats have been set with decades old formulas that are built around the metabolic rate of men – and middle aged men to. This “formula” takes in factors like; air temperature, air speed, vapour pressure and clothing insulation. It simple, but there’s one big issues. It based on a 40 year old man weighing about 70 kg and their resting metabolic rate. Now i think it’s pretty fair to say that the majority of woman aren’t going to have the same metabolic rate as them, regardless of weight and age.
Other studies have proven that women are just naturally colder than men. – around 3 degrees to be exact. Even birth control pills can raise the temperature of woman, which can affect how their bodies respond to the office temperature.
The formula was devised by tests back in the 60s when the majority of office workers were men, so that does make sense.
But that was nearly 60 years ago now, and the office dynamics have changed drastically. 47% of the workforce is now comprised of woman.

All this despite the fact that the phenomenon of women getting cold is blatantly obvious, and cold uncomfortable employees are far less productive. So there is more and more incentive for changing the outdated office thermostats, even if that just means turning down the cooling power a couple clicks, this is very beneficial to your office employees.

The “Cognitive Load” Test

Recently a study was done, assessing the cognitive load on different office temperature. They had the temperature set to 22°C and 25°C when they were running the experiments on the participants. The majority of the participants were aged between 31 and 50 years old, with a total of 12 men and 14 woman.
The first test they did was called the Cambridge Brain Science test, which has been used in many studies aimed at measuring cognitive performance.
They were then asked to fill in a questionnaire that was aimed at finding out how difficult they found that task. The questionnaire is called the NASA Task Load Index, it asks the participants questions such as; was the task easy or hard, simple or complex etc.

The participants then took a 10 minute break. They were then asked to complete 3 different tests of varying difficulty, called the Paced Auditory Serial Addition Test (PASAT, for short). Same as last time, they were asked to fill out the Nasa questionnaire to find out how difficult they found it.

At the end of the one hour experiment, the participants were asked to complete the thermal comfort questionnaire again.

The results from the tests showed that the participants CBS test scores weren’t significantly affected by temperature. In fact, many of them performed better at 25°C. And when they analysed and compared the EEG and heart rate monitor results during the PASAT tests, they couldn’t see or find any significant difference whether the office was at 22°C or 25°C.

And when we analysed and compared the EEG and heart rate monitoring results during the PASAT tests, we did not find any significant difference, whether the room temperature was at 22°C or 25°C.

So where to from here?

So the study shows that the office temperature doesn’t really seem to affect the cognitive behaviour of individuals, regardless of gender. But that isn’t to say people are complaining about being to cold for no reason, maybe they are actually just cold. So if you are in the position to control the office temperature, perhaps it would be beneficial to office moral to just turn the Air Conditioner up a couple clicks!

But having the office thermostat set to low goes further than just the office workers. Over-cooling in big commercial buildings will drive up the building energy use, create more greenhouse gas emissions and ultimately bring you a larger electricity bill.

We have found that the average office is set to 22°C around Australia, but we think it might be worth changing that to 24°C. You will save energy use and costs without affecting the office workers cognitive performance, and maybe you will help a couple people out by not making them shiver all day long.

If you or the office manager are in need a getting your office air conditioning looked, make sure you get in contact with us for a no obligation quote! See what we can do for you today!

Rite Price Heating and Cooling is the diamond distributor of some of the best air conditioning in the industry. With decades of experience in the industry, we help South Australian home owners make the most of their air conditioning. Rite Price has highly experience air conditioning engineers and specialist who will help you make the right choice based on your budget. Get in touch with Rite Price today and get the best free quote any air conditioning has to offer.

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