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Cold Office Temperatures Have Men to Blame as Women Freeze

First Posted: Aug 05, 2015 07:31 AM EDT

Does your office feel like the Arctic? Then you may have men to blame. A new study reveals that climate control systems in office buildings are set according to an old formula based on men's thermal comfort, which may not only waste energy but also cause women to be cold.

Your metabolic rate is the amount of daily energy that you will exert while at rest in a neutral environment. Yet it seems as if office buildings have been designed to not reflect reality.

Heat exchange depends on individual factors such as body size, and therefore body surface area, metabolic rate, tissue insulation and clothing. This means that no office thermal environment would ever satisfy anyone. However, it's important to at least consider the average.

In this latest study, the scientists cite past research indicating that the difference of men's and women's temperature preferences can be up to 5 degrees. In addition, women tend to have much stronger vasoconstrictive reactions than men when they get cold.

The researchers also found that energy consumption of residences and offices adds up to about 30 percent of total carbon dioxide emissions. By turning down climate control, it would be possible to substantially reduce the required energy for thermal environments in offices. With that said, this would require people to be able to wear more casual clothes in the summer and be able to bundle up in offices in the winter.

The findings reveal that offices aren't just making women colder than men; they're also wasting energy. By keeping this in mind, it's possible to save both energy and money by regulating the thermal environment based on the seasons rather than trying to keep it an exact temperature year-round.

The findings are published in the journal Nature Climate Change.

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