Temperature, Comfort, And A Little Extra

December 29, 2004
/ Print / Reprints /
ShareMore
/ Text Size+
Temperature control is the leading factor in customer comfort. Research from leading HVAC product manufacturers and third-party research organizations have pointed it out, and techs on the front lines know it. It may start with being too hot or too cold in general, cold spots, hot spots, and dead-air zones - but what else does it mean?

Why do different customers perceive thermal changes differently? The short answer is, they have a different frame of reference.

The Long Answer

The human body's ability to adapt to varying levels of heat and cold is part of the reason why our species has survived. It is controlled by the central nervous system (including sensors in the skin), the muscular system, and the circulatory system. The thermostat is actually a go-between for the home's heating-cooling system and the body's control system.

The body has two ways of perceiving external stimuli: through sensation and through perception. There is something called the absolute threshold - the point at which a change in the environment becomes noticeable. Is a 0.5 degree change detectable to a person? No, but a 5 degree change is.

A person's perception of temperature depends to some degree on the temperature they were in before. To the person coming inside from shoveling snow on a winter's day, the house feels nice and warm. The person who was already inside at a desk might feel cool. The person who comes in chilled might feel the need to turn up the thermostat, then drinks a cup of something warm, shivers a little bit, puts on a sweater, and gradually warms up. Once their body adjusts, they turn the thermostat back down because now the space is "too hot."

The human body also uses "homeostasis" to maintain a stable internal environment - that is, inside the body. The body's nervous system sends feedback about temperature and responds to bring the body to a stable condition. Too cold? The nerves send messages that start the muscles shivering, which helps warm a person up. Too hot? The nerves send messages that start perspiration.

Why do people complain about being too hot or too cold? There are many cases where the mechanical system is not functioning as it should, either from a control or delivery standpoint. That's where you come in.

Getting To The Heart

When you are troubleshooting a customer's comfort problems, look for the obvious problems first. If there is a cold spot in the house, check the ductwork - is enough air coming out? Could there be a duct leak? Have they blocked their own vents?

Where has the thermostat been placed? Is it in a direct path of a heat source? Has the room configuration been changed? Could this customer be a candidate for zoning?

Is the thermostat responding properly? Is the customer comfortable using their thermostat? Are occupants in larger buildings having "thermostat wars?" Feeling in control of the system plays a big role in a customer's comfort. Perhaps it is time for a different thermostat, or a refresher on using their existing one.

Are there other aspects of comfort that need to be addressed? Is the home's humidity (or lack of humidity) contributing to comfort problems? High indoor humidity in summer could have multiple causes, and it does make people feel more uncomfortable even when the air is being cooled.

It is critical to take comfort complaints seriously. Offer solutions based on your knowledge and experience. Your customers will have the added comfort of working with an HVAC technician of integrity.

For more information, click on the Emerson Climate Technologies logo above.

Did you enjoy this article? Click here to subscribe to The NEWS Magazine

You must login or register in order to post a comment.

Multimedia

Videos

Image Galleries

2014 MCAA Annual Convention

Scenes from the 2014 MCAA Annual Convention in Scottsdale, Ariz.

Podcasts

Kyle Gargaro, editor-in-chief of The NEWS, hosted the 2014 ACCA CEO Forum. At the event, six well-known, highly respected company executives, Gary Michel, Ingersoll Rand/Trane; Chris Nelson, Carrier Corp.; Chris Peel, Rheem Mfg. Co.; Rod Rushing, Johnson Controls; Brent Schroeder, Emerson Climate Technologies; and Doug Young, Lennox; provided individual industry outlooks and fielded questions directly from attending contractors. Listen to the entire event on the NEWSMakers podcast. Posted on April 14.

More Podcasts

THE MAGAZINE

ACHRNEWS

NEWS 04-14-14 cover

2014 April 14

Check out the weekly edition of The NEWS today!

Table Of Contents Subscribe

SERVICE CALLS POLL

Which statement on service calls best applies to your business?
View Results Poll Archive

HVACR INDUSTRY STORE

plumbing-hvac.gif
2014 National Plumbing & HVAC Estimator

Every plumbing and HVAC estimator can use the cost estimates in this practical manual!

More Products

Clear Seas Research

 

Clear Seas ResearchWith access to over one million professionals and more than 60 industry-specific publications, Clear Seas Research offers relevant insights from those who know your industry best. Let us customize a market research solution that exceeds your marketing goals.

DON'T MISS A THING

Magazine image
 
Register today for complete access to ACHRNews.com. Get full access to the latest features, Extra Edition, and more.

STAY CONNECTED

facebook icontwitter iconyoutube iconLinkedIn i con