Loading articles...

The cold shoulder: Battle over the thermostat not just isolated to the home, but also a problem at work

Last Updated Jul 25, 2019 at 10:47 am PDT


A quarter of people in B.C. experience discomfort, conflict when it comes to air conditioning in the workplace: survey

60 per cent of workers reported difficulties in concentrating at work because of low temperatures: BC Hydro

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – The battle over the thermostat isn’t just limited to the home front.

According to BC Hydro, about a quarter of people in this province experience discomfort and even conflict when it comes to air conditioning in the work place.

“One-in-four British Columbians said they have argued, or witnessed an argument, with a coworker over the office temperature,” Susie Rieder with the utility explains. “Many employees don’t have the power to adjust the office A/C — two thirds of British Columbians said they either have no means by which to adjust the office temperature or they have to ask permission to do so.”

She notes 60 per cent of workers reported difficulties in concentrating at work because of low temperatures.

The fighting over whether it’s too hot or too cold apparently also varies, depending on who you talk to.

“We found that four times more women than men described their office as too cold during the summer,” Rieder says. “Women are doing things like using blankets and space heaters at their desks more often than men.”

She says 20 per cent of respondents feel the temperature around the workplace is “designed for men.”

Rieder points to recent studies which support this claim, and explains one found “many HVAC systems are actually designed with men in mind.”

“They were designed in the 1960s for the resting metabolic rate of men,” she tells NEWS 1130. “To be more specific, they were designed for a 150 lbs middle-aged man wearing a business suit.”

Of course, the office landscape has changed since that time, and Rieder notes women now make up 50 per cent of the workforce, but no HVAC systems are designed for them.

BC Hydro has found that most buildings in the province have their temperatures set at 20 degrees, which is about three or four degrees too cool for optimal power savings.

“Buildings should be cooled between 23 to 26 degrees Celsius when occupied, and the A/C should be turned off when unoccupied,” Rieder says.

People who were in open-office environments were twice as likely as those in closed-office environments to say that there’s an A/C war happening at their workplace.