The Science of Temperature Sensitivity

March 24 2015

James Patten


Some people seem to take the winter winds in their stride, whilst others would rather just hibernate throughout the chilly season. You can be shivering in your jumpers while someone else is fighting to get the windows open.

Temperature wars in the office are far from imaginary too; someone’s too hot, someone’s too cold, and temperatures are rising – but not in a good way! Sound familiar?

If you’ve ever wondered about this age-old conundrum then you’re in luck. In this blog we’re going to take a look at the science behind why some people feel the cold more keenly than others. And trust us, it’s pretty fascinating!

You Feel Colder As You Get Older

As we get older we feel colder, and typically find the cold a little harder to take.

Research has shown that as we age our normal body temperature declines slightly too. This is due to factors such as a decrease in circulation and the thinning of the heat-conserving fat layers under our skin.

So next time you’re complaining about your granny sticking the heating on in July, don’t!

Do Women Feel Colder Than Men?

We’ve all heard the jokes, but before you roll your eyes there’s actually some pretty solid science behind this claim.

Studies have found that although women’s core body temperatures can run slightly higher than men’s, their hands are typically colder. A lot colder.

Whilst men’s average hand temperate weighs in at around 90 ºF, for women, this figure is only 87.2 ºF – maybe there’s a ring of truth to the old saying ‘cold hands, warm heart’ after all!

The reason for these differences is not yet fully understood. But it’s likely that factors such as genders differences in body fat distribution and muscle mass have a role to play.

One intriguing theory has suggested that because women tend to have more body fat than men, they’re better at conserving heat – though this comes at the expense of toasty extremities.

Activity Level

Feeling a little chilly? Then you might want to put on your running shoes. Active people tend to feel warmer and be more tolerant to the cold.

This is because all that exercise means they have improved blood flow to their extremities.

The Short and Tall of It

When it comes to cold tolerance, it pays to be on the shorter side.

Taller people tend to get colder faster than shorter people. If you’re wondering why, this is because a larger surface area means more heat loss. Pretty simple when you think about it!

In extremely cold climates people tend to have shorter, stockier frames, and this enables them to retain heat better. Conversely, dry, hot environments, favour tall, slim individuals as they are able to lose heat more quickly.

 The Ideal Temperature

In an office environment it’s important to keep everyone happy, but due to a variety of factors this can be easier said than done.

The easiest way to achieve this is to simply ask your employees whether or not they’re comfortable with the temperature of their environment.

You’ve probably got more chance of winning the lottery than satisfying everybody, but at least this way you should be able to determine a temperature that satisfies the majority of your employees. And that’s no mean feat!

As a handy tip, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) advises that 80% of occupants is a reasonable limit for the minimum number of people that should be thermally comfortable in a given environment.

As leading suppliers of any array of warm air heating solutions here at Heritage Heating we know a thing or two about maintaining the right temperature in the work place.

Think you require our services? Then contact a member of our friendly team today, by giving us a call on 01509 814 123.

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