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Some people are cool and some are hot!

Do you notice how many people go to a movie and carry a jacket or pull-over even when it's in the 90’s outside? Or people at a convention wearing sweaters in the summer? I am one of those people. Went to see The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel and began the trip to hypothermia when I sat in my chair. Don’t companies understand everything engineers do to make systems energy efficient goes out the window when the system is not operated correctly?

It is estimated that, during the cooling season, a decrease in the setting of a thermostat by one degree adds one percent to your energy bill. Or a five degree decrease adds five percent. Engineers work hard to get a 40% savings in energy usage and the thermostat setting can give 5% right back. What gives?

Steve Alvine of Alvine Engineering shared some insight into the thermal comfort of people. He was updating a HVAC system in an office building and found two people sitting next to each other, one wrapped in a blanket and the other with a fan. “It comes down to making people comfortable and we are all different.” he says.

The American Society of Heating, Refrigeration, and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE), which recommends standards for mechanical systems, is based on making 80% of the occupants of a building comfortable. Basically, people are so different that a mechanical system is hard pressed to make everyone comfortable.

So why do places like movie theaters and convention centers keep it so cold? Perhaps places have learned people can put on more layers to be comfortable, but it is not acceptable to take off layers to keep cool. It's all about minimizing complaints.

So much for saving energy.


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