The Humble Thermostat gets a Makeover. And It’s Good for Business

September 12, 2019
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HVAC is one of those things that people only think about when it breaks down. Or when it’s working just fine, but a Battle Royale is raging over temperature control during the work day amongst colleagues.

It turns out that temperature discrepancies aren’t just superficial arguments over personal preferences. Several studies over the years point to substantial productivity losses in the office when employees are either too hot or cold.

For example, one study* conducted earlier this year with college students showed a noticeable rise in productivity with warmer temperatures amongst the female students; while a drop in productivity was recorded with the men.

Similarly, a Cornell University study** last decade found that “when the office temperature in a month-long study increased from 68 to 77 degrees Fahrenheit, typing errors fell by 44 percent and typing output jumped 150 percent.” (This study was across the board, and not divided by gender.)

The former study was advocating for better observation skills around the office to note who is bundling up with extra blankets, but fortunately for employers, there is a better way: smart building technology. And this technology is being advanced by new thermostats that are designed to make everyone happy.

These thermostats combine well-placed room sensors, the Information of Things (IoT) plus zoned supply vents to better regulate temperatures based on comfort preferences. The best thermostats on the market will have all or most of these features:

  • Remote control from your smart phone or Alexa devices.
  • C02 sensor data with control to regulate ventilation based on inputs.
  • Temperature control based on zoned preferences.
  • Multiple sensors for both temperature control as well as occupancy rates.
  • Programmable schedules for regular hours and special events.
  • Machine learning based on past use and occupancy.
  • Manual override capabilities.

Sensor placement will be important in your business to ensure that any comfort issues are addressed. And consider initially commissioning your system to make sure it is operating at optimal efficiency. Additionally, if you have a Building Management System already, review the best options with your preferred HVAC contractor for the best working options.

And finally, as with all technology designed to simplify our lives, remember to keep in the mind that any up-front cost needs to be weighed with the long-term savings and benefits. Because, who doesn’t want happy, productive employees? And who doesn’t want more cash in the bank?

*https://www.npr.org/2019/05/26/727108363/how-office-temperature-affects-cognitive-performance

**https://news.cornell.edu/stories/2004/10/warm-offices-linked-fewer-typing-errors-higher-productivity

About the Author: Ryan Grobler is founder and CEO of FridgeWize, Inc., a company that specializes in energy efficient turnkey packages for motor, fan and smart components in refrigeration and commercial HVAC. In 2012, Grobler invented the patent-pending carbon fiber fan blade for refrigeration applications. In 2015 and 2016 the blade received multiple international awards including the Energy Awards Top Product of the Year in London in 2016.


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