Thursday, April 29, 2010

Temperature Control

This one goes out to all those who think it’s too cold with the air conditioning set to a certain temperature, especially those who turn up the thermostat in response. In the world there are two kinds of people – well, it’s more of a spectrum with varying degrees (no pun intended) of preference, but I’ll simplify – those that prefer warmer air temperatures, and those who prefer colder. And for the sake of this argument, some people prefer one direction or the other to conserve energy in order to save money or to protect the environment. Put those reasons aside; I’m talking about pure temperature preference.


I personally am one of the colder types and am completely comfortable inside at 60°F, 30s or so outdoors. I feel like I may be in a minority as part of this group, which may come up as an argument for the case I am about to present, but you’ll see that it doesn’t matter. Us ‘cold’ types are more likely to turn down the thermostat when we’re uncomfortable, which frequently upsets the ‘warm’ types. Of course the same is true for the ‘warm’ types, but being in the perceived minority, I feel the ‘colds’ upset the ‘warms’ more. So the two groups in my experience typically go back and forth, turning the air up and down and up and down, or else getting in senseless arguments over the difference of 2°.

Instead of this fighting and bickering, however, I propose another idea. You ‘warms’ just deal with it! And I don’t mean suck it up and deal with the cold that you dislike so much. Instead, how about adding a layer or two to your wardrobe if it’s that bad? Does that really seem too difficult? If you get too cold with the temperature setting low, then throw on a scarf or jacket, and the problem is solved.

Now look at the other end of the preference spectrum: the ‘colds’. If we are too hot, using that same logic, we can just remove layers. Tada! Problem solved again, right? Wrong. It may be acceptable in your own home to walk around in the nude (and then again, maybe it’s not) but when in a more public place, say the office or school, a little more discretion is required. If I go somewhere with a light t-shirt, shorts and nothing else – preparing myself as much as possible for the inevitable ‘warm’ adjustment – I have no such option to remove a layer. Not only is it illegal in most places to strip down beyond that, but I’m sure most people don’t want to see a bunch of ‘colds’ walking around in the buff or in their skivvies.

For ‘warms’ it’s easy to deal with the cold. It’s not so simple for ‘colds’. Please be considerate, ‘warms’, and leave the temperature at a lower level. We ‘colds’ will appreciate it.


  1. I'm a 'cold' as well so its easy for me to jump on board yelling 'put on a jacket and shut up already!'

    Let's really look at the situation from a court room stand point when it is in a work environment. Is it too much of a leap to say that forcing people to put on extra layers of clothes, outside the reasonable work attire set forth by company guidelines, is wrong?

    By law a company must provide a comfortable work environment. So what is that when it comes to temperature? 75? 73? I'm not sure there is a set standard. No matter what someone will always complain.

    To force someone to put on extra clothes though. Seems simple fix, yes? What if its not. What if someone doesn't have the extra clothes? What if those clothes are not work appropriate? They then have to go and spend money for something that others in the work environment doesn't have to. And what if working with extra clothes on is uncomfortable as well? Jobs that have a high movement rate or dealing with small objects on a desk. A big old sweater getting in the way is never fun.

    A company will never force someone to just deal and buy and/or put on extra clothes. They are required to find a happy medium without external effort on part of the employee - within reason.

    My point isn't that you are wrong and they are right or that they are wrong and you are right. My point is that its easy for us to view life as *we* know it. With our income level. Our temperature preference. Our hardships and troubles. Our successes. We will never know what life is like to live for someone else - ever.

    So 'put on a jacket and shut up already!' may not be the answer.

  2. While I can see your point of the employer's responsibility to ensure a resonable working environment for employees, I don't really agree. You and I see 'reasonable' with two different meanings it seems. Plus I'm not really sure that it's actually required by law that employers do anything regarding employee comfort. Safety, yes. Comfort, no. Do oilers work in a comfortable environment?

    To me, reasonable means an employer finding something that is appealing for most, and for those for which it is not appealing, a reasonable accommodation can be made, either by the employee or employer. Adding a jacket is very reasonable; removing one's trousers is not so much. You mention that employers do not have the option to 'force someone to put on extra clothes'; I agree. If an employee wants to deal with the cooler temperature, then they can, and if they want to put on a jacket, they can. If an employee wants to deal with the warmer temperature, they can, but if they want to remove clothing, they can't. 'Colds' like only have one 'option': to deal.

    Again, while I agree with you - only somehwat - that the employer is responsible, you are putting all of that responsibility on the shoulders of the employer for them to bear, whereas I feel it's the employee's duty to come prepared for work. This includes being to work on time, ready to go with whatever materials are needed for the job. If that means having a light coat on-hand in case a cold front hits, then so be it. For those like me, the only planning we can do is to wear as little/as light as possible, and in the even of a heat-wave, we're stuck.

    Furhermore, I also think that an employee taking 'reasonable' precautions means not bringing 5 thick jackets/sweaters and insisting that so much is necessary to be comfortable. If something that heavy-duty is required (by a consensus), then odds are the temperature is too cold (though even I may be still be comfortable with it!), and the thermostat can be raised.

    As far as not having the ability to afford additional layers, then I ask how someone like this is even capable of having any kind of wardrobe? Nobody said it had to be an Armani leather jacket. Unless perhaps you work in the fashion industry, it is not a condition of employment to be exceedingly stylish. A generic, simple zip-up windbreaker - even bought from the local Goodwill to save on costs - may be enough to fight the chill, and more than likely it can be worn more than once during a laundry cycle, meaning you can probably get away with buying just one.


Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment. I will usually do my best to respond as quickly as I can. I would like to encourage conversations between myself and others in this way, so please feel free to speak your mind!