Air Conditioning Don’ts And Don’tsWritten by Duncan under Air Conditioners, General | No Comments
As we approach the warmer, stickier weather that Summer could bring, more companies are looking to either fit or procure air conditioning or ramp up existing installations in response to their employee’s complaints about the working environment. Wall-mounted split air conditioners do deliver a powerful output and can cool large areas although they do need to be professionally installed requiring drilling and permanent fixing. Portable air conditioners are cheap to buy and no installation is required aside from finding someplace to stick the vent exhaust hose. These portable units can be quite noisy and are not really suitable suitable for large areas. Through-the-wall or window air conditioners come as one self-contained integral unit capable of relatively easy DIY installation. Again, these are not really suitable for large areas and must be installed on an external wall.
The need for air con is clear at least in commercial environments during inclement or hot and humid weather. A survey of facilities management professionals conducted by the International Facility Management Association (IFMA) reveals the most common complaint from workers about the HVAC system was the temperature being too cold or too hot. Complaints about indoor-air quality came way down the list as did complaints about noise. The most common solution adopted by staff to things being too hot was the use of personal fans (66%) or stripping off! When too cold, 60% of employees surveyed used personal heaters (despite being told these were a fire hazard) or resorted to extra layers of clothing. 57% said their company did not take other simple steps like relaxing the dress code during summer to improve comfort levels.
The other approach to employee whinges about levels of work comfort appears to be sleight of hand and doling nothing! An astonishing amount of respondents admitted to being “psychologically sneaky” by saying they would make an adjustment in response to complaints, but not actually do anything. After a couple of hours, they follow up to find out if the ‘adjustments’ made any difference and most times, are assured by staff that things are” much better thank you” when if fact they haven’t actually physically done anything to change the temperature.
If temperatures are centrally controlled and cannot be regulated by individual occupants it will be difficult to accommodate what could be varying work condition requirements, whereas air conditioning systems that are zone-controlled, allowing facility managers and individual occupants to adjust the thermostat can quickly provide localised control. However, judging by the placebo effect of simply saying something’s been done, perhaps more companies will just install thermostat controls without even wiring them up?