Tag Archives: Thermal Comfort

Occupant Thermal Comfort in Energy Trade-Offs

Occupant Thermal Comfort in Energy Trade-Offs

Posted on 16. Mar, 2010 by .


Green living is sometimes viewed as a sacrificial process whereby one by one, all our pleasures and comforts must be set aside in the name of saving the planet: walking instead of driving, sweeping instead of vacuuming, home cooking instead of take-out, turning the thermostat down in the winter while our hands and feet turn into blocks of ice, low-flow showerheads designed by bald men that take forever to rinse the shampoo out of a long-haired-girl’s mane, limiting one’s diet to only locally available seasonal produce (which could be nothing but cabbages if you live in Chicago), calling three hardware stores to find one that carries low-VOC paint, giving up meat because it takes too much grain to feed a cow, trudging everywhere with a backpack filled with stuff that otherwise we could just keep in the car. In essence, the increased physical hardship comes from asking our own bodies to start doing more of the work. And what’s our reward? A nice warm feeling of altruistic glow, and maybe a slimmer figure.

Efficiency is often seen as achievable only at the cost of comfort – some of us East Coasters remember shivering through the 1970s oil crisis as our dads re-defined 58 degrees during the day as “normal” and turned the thermostat down at night till the pipes froze, and our mothers finally complained. Well, so what? What’s the big deal? We all have to give up something. Well, the problem is that this “fix” didn’t really fix anything. Reducing consumption is not the same thing as having an efficient building, and neither approach presents qualitative factors like comfort or contentment as worthy of consideration.


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