It’s one of the most bitter battles in offices the nation over — who controls the thermostat.
Like many office wars, women often emerge the losers, with most office temps calibrated for men. If you’re a woman, you know what I’m talking about. You’re shivering in a sweater mid-July, while the dudes roam around in shorts complaining about how hot it is.
That might change, thanks to a new study published today. According to this report in Nature Climate Change, office temps could stand to go up a few degrees to benefit everyone.
According to the study’s synopsis, “Indoor climate regulations are based on an empirical thermal comfort model that was developed in the 1960s. Standard values for one of its primary variables — metabolic rate — are based on an average male, and may overestimate female metabolic rate by up to 35%. This may cause buildings to be intrinsically non-energy-efficient in providing comfort to females. Therefore, we make a case to use actual metabolic rates.”
In addition to readjusting standards set in the 1960s, the researchers point out that upping the thermostat a few degrees would also help curb total carbon dioxide emissions, that pesky stuff that contributes to global warming.
“Energy consumption of residential buildings and offices adds up to about 30% of total carbon dioxide emissions,” they write. “Occupant behaviour contributes to 80% of the variation in energy consumption.”
According to the New York Times, that 1960s rate was calculated on “on a 40-year-old man weighing about 154 pounds.”
One of the differences in keeping warm at the office is metabolic rates. Women have slower rates than men because we naturally have more body fat — and muscle burns calories faster, aka men heat up faster. Body size also influences how quickly a person warms up, people who weigh more, get hotter faster. They suggest an office around 75 degrees is ideal for women, while men prefer 70 degrees.
One more reason to turn it up a few degrees? According to this report in Live Science, cranking the AC doesn’t help anyone when it comes to maintaining or losing weight: “When living in constantly comfortable temperatures, the body doesn’t have to work to keep cool or warm, according to a 2006 article in the International Journal of Obesity.”
So there you have it. Help make your female colleagues more comfortable, curb global warming, get fitter and lose weight.