Regular Pulse contributor Bethany Brookshire breaks down what we should really be paying attention to in the AC study that got all the recent buzz.
The thermostat has long been considered ground zero for modern day misconceptions between the sexes. A new study published in Nature Climate Change confirms the widely held suspicion that women find themselves wearing layers to the office in summer because the metabolic standards taken into account for air conditioning are designed with men in mind. But regular Pulse contributor Bethany Brookshire of Science News explains that the cold-hard truth of staying warm indoors is actually more complicated.
“The study notes that when people design heating and cooling systems for buildings, they take into account subjective temperatures at which people feel comfortable,” which tend to hover around 75 degrees.
Brookshire argues that the ways in which buildings are designed actually have nothing to do with who sets the thermostat.
Heating and cooling systems are based on a complex metric encompassing subjective feelings of comfort and an averaged metabolic rate—that of a 40 year-old man weighing 154 lbs. “When you turn it over to operations, that’s when it all goes downhill,” Brookshire explains.
Scientists involved in the study contend that data used comes from a large study of 1,300 men and women, all of whom Brookshire argues wore “exactly the same clothing and performed exactly the same tasks.”
The complex metric that informs building design, Brookshire explains, favors subjective ratings of comfort during temperature fluctuations over average metabolic rates.
But even if metabolic rates were weighed more heavily in the metric, Brookshire explains that scientists believe variations in metabolic rates between individuals are actually much larger than any variation between sexes.
“Designing a thermostat set just for women probably wouldn’t keep any more women comfortable than are presently.”