Buzzword: Thermostat wars

Consumer Reports News: August 06, 2010 12:08 PM

What it means: A comfort clash, a cold war. It’s an office battle to control the enemy within— central air conditioning. On a sultry summer day, you’re hot, but your co-worker is dressed in Icelandic wool.

Why the buzz? This summer’s been a scorcher in parts of the U.S. and some office buildings have micro-climates, a reminder of when central air was first installed without considering all the variables, such as ventilation and solar heat gain. That’s why there are offices with windows facing south and west that are sauna-like, and then meat lockers for windowless workers. A cold-but-fashion-conscious employee may resort to such covert operations as hiding a space heater under the desk.

To get the job done you have to be comfortable. Here are some tips from the Energy Savers Blog at the U.S. Department of Energy:
  • Ask management or facilities to add sun-blocking film or blinds to windows flooded with sunlight.
  • Create a wind chill effect by using a desk fan. It makes you feel cooler, without cooling the room, and is generally inexpensive to operate.
  • Dress in light layers and keep a sweater handy.
—Kimberly Janeway

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