College is an incredible time to experience things for the first time. One of those experiences for me and probably many of you is living with a roommate. Even during orientation my roommate and I had a dispute regarding the temperature of the room. I for one enjoy a cooler room, especially when sleeping, but that is not the case for everyone and I am curious as to why. At first I had a few preliminary question such as, why we, as humans, are uncomfortable when the temperature of our surroundings is the temperature of our body (98.6 degrees fahrenheit). Simply put, our bodies’ metabolisms continuously generates heat, and if the temperature of our surroundings is the same as our bodies, it is difficult to expel heat and cool down.
Our metabolisms are the main determination for room temperature preferences; having a higher metabolism equates to a cooler room preference. A difference in metabolic rate may cause a few issues especially in the office setting. Generally, the current office temperature is set to about 70 degrees fahrenheit, and that standard temperature exist due to the average metabolic rate of a 40 year old, 155 pound male which was the average office occupant in the 1930’s. As the role of woman in society has progressed and their presence in the office has increased, many woman find the temperature too cold. Men, as a whole, have a greater muscle to fat ratio than woman, and since muscle cells require more energy (and give off more heat) to operate than fat cells, woman consistently have a lower resting metabolism.
However, metabolism is not the sole explanation for room temperature preference. Much of it is psychological. Psychologist William C. Howell conducted an experiment regarding the human perception of temperature. His study concluded that as humans, we cannot physically distinguish temperature changes within a several degree variation. Much of our perception of temperature is based on social cues such as weather reports and advertisements.
Due to a higher presence of woman in the office, the average temperature of an office building may be increasing in the near future (although a few degrees difference in temperature cannot really be detected by humans) However, it was found office temperature does affect workers performance. One study conducted by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory concluded that worker performance consistently decreases when the temperature rises above 24-26 degrees celsius (about 75-80 degrees fahrenheit).
I only skimmed the surface on how temperature affects us humans, and there are many more studies on this subject such as the healthiest temperature for our sleeping environment and how the temperature affects the body during exercise. Comment and tell me what temperature you all prefer and any other interesting findings that might relate.