The conversations of life

Check that thermostat – women are freezing


If your experience of air-conditioned workplaces and meeting rooms is of constantly feeling cold, you’re probably a woman.

You might have caught wind of a story this week about a study showing there is indeed a difference between the way men and women experience the temperature in air-conditioned environments.  And there is a reason!

Researchers from Maastrict University in the Netherlands have come up with the result that women are best suited to a temperature set at 25 degrees Celsius while men prefer the thermostat set at 22.5 degrees Celsius – or 2.5 degrees cooler.

This fact is now being used to explain why women are always struggling with air conditioned offices, which are generally set at 22 degrees, a temperature found in research dating back to the 1960’s to be the most effective working environment.

Men prefer the 22.5 degrees

But it is now obvious that is the most effective work environment for men only.

It was also based on the typical male being a 40 year old and weighing just 70 kilos. I don’t know any men who weigh 70 kilos these days!

And because men are bigger bodied today, they will feel the heat even more. For all of us our metabolic rate is the main determinate of energy expenditure; it is ruled by our ‘fat free body mass’. Simply put, the more skin, bones and muscle we have (but not fat), the higher our resting metabolic rate will be and the more heat we will produce. Men are bigger and hotter and so need more – air-conditioning!

This creates a thermostat debate

Who should be made comfortable? The man or woman? If we make the office colder the woman will have to reach for the pashmina; but is that fair on women? Make the office hotter and men will reach for their shorts – but is that fair on women too?

No easy answers here.

Chris Baynes is a columnist and publisher of Frank & Earnest. He is also the publisher of, the leading national directory of retirement villages and aged care services in Australia.

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